UPDATED 7:26 AM PT – Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Top US diplomats are scrambling to simmer tensions in the Middle East amid recent violent attacks in Jerusalem. During a press conference Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said several officials contacted their counterparts in Israel, Palestine and other Arab countries to make sure there is no escalation.
Over the weekend, more than 170 Palestinians were reportedly injured by Israeli police near the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Police officers said they were provoked by protesters who were allegedly setting off fireworks toward the officers as well as throwing stones and other objects at them.
In recent weeks, Israel has faced a slew of knife and gun attacks from Palestinian suspects, which have prompted a heavy-handed response from police.
“We are deeply concerned by the recent violence in Jerusalem on the Haram al-Sharif Temple Mount and across the West Bank, Price stated. “We also continue to urge Israeli and Palestinian officials to work cooperatively to lower tensions and ensure the safety of everyone.”
Additionally, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett denounced the recent attacks on his people while asserting they are at the hands of Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas. He said his military intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Monday and stressed it’s the first time Hamas launched a rocket from a Palestinian territory.
“This is unacceptable to us,” Bennett stated. “This is a reward for the inciters, especially Hamas, which are trying to ignite violence in Jerusalem. We will not allow this to happen. The State of Israel will continue to provide for and safeguard the dignity of all of us to enable everyone to celebrate in Jerusalem, and – most of all – our forces will continue to provide security for the citizens of the State of Israel.”
Meanwhile, adversaries to Israel are ramping up their incendiary rhetoric against the country. After launching two deadly attacks in Israel last month, ISIS has called on supporters to carry out more attacks while also urging violent attacks in Europe.
Additionally, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi threatened to strike the heart of Israel if the Jewish State makes the slightest move against it. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also vowed to protect Palestinians from alleged anti-Palestine attacks from Israel.
“Our armed forces have today, after the imposed war, rebuilt themselves in a way that today our military might is not only noteworthy in the region, but in the world,” Raisi stated.
In the meantime, spokesman Price is urging Israeli forces to use restraint when responding to attacks, ensuring diplomatic phone calls will de-escalate the situation. Experts are calling on Israel and the Arab world to continue to abide by the 2020 Abraham Accords to build off the historic meeting held late last month.