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Dozens of Palestinians arrested in West Bank raids

Israeli forces carried out predawn raids in the occupied West Bank [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 July, 2016

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Dozens of Palestinians were arrested in predawn raids by Israeli forces on Monday, amid rising tensions and a deadly wave of violence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

At least 34 Palestinians were detained on Monday in predawn raids by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli forces stormed the town of Bani Naim, one of the many Hebron-area villages and towns that have been under complete lockdown since a 17-year-old Palestinian stabbed an Israeli girl to death last week.

Mohamed Nasser Tarayra, who allegedly stabbed 13-year-old Hallel Yafa Ariel to death in her bed in the nearby Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, was shot dead on the scene.

Checkpoints and closures were still in place at entrances to the city on Monday.

Hebron – a city with several hundred Israeli settlers – has been a flashpoint in the wave of deadly unrest that has killed at least 214 Palestinians and 34 Israelis since last October.

Most of the Palestinians were allegedly carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.

Others were killed in clashes with security forces or by Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, with Israeli forces being accused of using excessive force in some cases.

Palestinians say the rise in knife attacks on Israeli soldiers is rooted in frustration stemming from nearly five decades of Israeli military occupation.

Al-Aqsa compound

Detention raids have spiked in recent weeks amid increasing tensions at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City.

Palestinian Muslims pray outside at the al-Aqsa mosque
compound during Ramadan [Anadolu]

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshipers gathered in al-Aqsa and around the Old City on Saturday, as the holy month of Ramadan entered its last ten days, considered to be the holiest of the month by adherents of the Islamic faith.

Based on an agreement with the Islamic trust that controls the al-Aqsa compound, Israel does not allow non-Muslim visitors in the area during Ramadan.

However, violence broke out in the mosque compound last week, when worshippers protested against Jewish visits to the site during the holy month.

This led to heated clashes in which rubber bullets were fired, injuring dozens of Palestinians. Several others were also arrested, including "four masked youths who were disrupting visits on the Temple Mount" by non-Muslims.

Situated in East Jerusalem's Old City, which Israel annexed without international recognition in 1967, the area around the al-Aqsa Mosque is revered by both Jews and Muslims.

Access to the mosque's compound is open to Jews and other non-Muslims, however this is during set hours in order to avoid disturbances.

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