Violence shakes Palestine and Israel as clashes continue
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a surprise visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday, calling for a stop to the violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
“My visit reflects the sense of global alarm at the dangerous escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians,” Ban said, according to a UN statement. “I am here to encourage and support all efforts to lower tensions and prevent the situation from spinning out of control.” He will meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Tuesday and Wednesday.
The wave of violence began last month over access to a holy site in Jerusalem that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Only Muslims have been allowed to pray at the site, which they know as the Noble Sanctuary. To Jews, it is the Temple Mount, and some Jewish radicals want Jews to be able to pray there as well.
The violence began at the site when groups of Jews ascended on the site and Palestinians felt threatened. It has since spread to other parts of Israel, the West Bank and along the Gaza border.
There have been clashes with Palestinian protesters and Israeli police, as well as airstrikes by the Israelis. An Israeli airstrike last week killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her daughter. Israeli’s military said it was responding to a rocket attack and was targeting Hamas weapons-manufacturing facilities in Gaza.
Palestinians also set fire to a Jewish holy site in the West Bank, Joseph’s Tomb, last week.
At least 40 Palestinians and eight Israelis have died since the violence started, according to NBC News.
The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry have condemned the attacks on innocent civilians and expressed disappointment in a lack of agreement between the two sides.