Palestinian Authority: Israel ‘fully responsible’ for ‘dangerous escalation’
Meeting Abbas, PA officials say Israeli practices will cause ‘further deterioration,’ make no mention of Jerusalem terror shootings, including deadly attack feted by Palestinians
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday said it holds Israel “fully responsible for the dangerous escalation” in violence, after two terror shooting attacks in Jerusalem and a deadly Israeli military raid in the West Bank earlier this week.
“The Palestinian leadership holds the Israeli occupation government fully responsible for the dangerous escalation that the situation has reached due to its crimes, which amounted to 31 martyrs during the current month,” the PA’s Security Council said in a statement carried by the official WAFA news agency.
The statement did not mention the shootings in Jerusalem. On Friday night, a Palestinian gunman from East Jerusalem killed seven and injured three more in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood, and on Saturday morning, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and wounded two Israeli men near the Old City.
The attacks were hailed by a number of Palestinian terror factions, including the Gaza-ruling Hamas, and celebrations were held in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and parts of East Jerusalem after the attack on Friday.
Tensions have been increasing dramatically since Thursday morning, when an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank city of Jenin against a terrorist cell left nine Palestinians dead — most of them gunmen and members of the cell, though at least one civilian was also killed.
The IDF said the majority of the Palestinians killed this month were carrying out attacks or were killed during clashes with security forces. Some were uninvolved civilians. The IDF said Thursday’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp was necessary to foil imminent attack plans by a local Islamic Jihad terror cell. The group had primed explosives and firearms, according to the IDF.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with senior officials Saturday to discuss the developments.
The PA warned Israel over the “continuation of its colonial settlement practices, land annexation, house demolitions, arrests, policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and the desecration of Islamic, Christian holy sites, and storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque,” saying it will “lead to further deterioration, threatening security and stability in the entire region.”
“The Palestinian leadership salutes our Palestinian people in all places of their presence for their steadfastness, peaceful popular resistance, and their adherence to their legitimate national rights and to the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of our Palestinian people, the leader of our struggle for freedom and independence,” the statement added.
After the deadly Jenin raid, the PA said it was cutting security ties with Israel.
Also Saturday, Saudi Arabia denounced “all targeting of civilians” following the attacks in Jerusalem.
“The kingdom condemns all targeting of civilians, stressing the need to deescalate, revive the peace process and end the occupation,” a statement from the Saudi foreign ministry said.
The ministry also warned “that the situation between Palestinians and Israelis will slide into further escalations.”
The European Union’s top diplomat denounced the attacks in Jerusalem while urging Israel to only use lethal force as a last resort.
“The European Union fully recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns, as evidenced by the latest terrorist attacks, but it has to be stressed that lethal force must only be used as a last resort when it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” said the bloc’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell.
Borrell said the EU “strongly condemns” the attacks in Jerusalem, which it called “acts of insane violence and hate.”
He also noted the deadly violence in the West Bank since the start of the year.
Borrell added that last year’s death toll, when “more than 150 people were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including 30 children,” was “the highest number since the end of the second intifada in 2005.” Many were killed while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians.
He said it was “urgent… to reverse this spiral of violence and engage in meaningful efforts to restart peace negotiations. We call on all parties not to react to provocations.”
In other reactions after the shootings, Russia’s foreign ministry on Saturday called for “maximum restraint.”
“We perceive this development of events with deep concern. We call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent further escalation of tension,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Recent events clearly confirm the need to urgently relaunch a constructive Palestinian-Israeli dialogue and to renounce unilateral actions,” it added.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was “deeply shocked” by the “terrible” attacks in Jerusalem.
“There have been deaths and people wounded in the heart of Israel,” he said, referring to an attack near a synagogue on Friday that killed seven and another on Saturday morning in which two people were injured.
“My thoughts are with the victims and their families. Germany stands by the side of Israel,” Scholz tweeted.
Earlier, the German foreign ministry said it also deplored Friday’s “abominable” attack, which took place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“A dialogue and cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian authorities are more necessary than ever in order to eliminate terror,” a spokeswoman for the ministry said.
“The spiral of violence that has already caused too many casualties on both sides this year must not continue.”
The outgoing president of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, expressed his “deepest condolences” to Israel over the deadly Jerusalem attack.
“President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman in the context of [the] terrorist attack at the Jerusalem synagogue expressed deepest condolences to the President of the State of Israel and the families of the victims in these difficult moments,” the Czech embassy in Tel Aviv said on Twitter.
“He wishes all the injured a speedy recovery,” the statement added.
The attack was denounced widely on Friday, with the US, UN, UAE and others issuing statements of condemnation.
Agencies contributed to this report.