Ten children were among 28 killed in Gaza in the Holy month of Ramadan, while two Israeli women were killed as Israeli air strikes pounded the territory and Palestinian militants fired rockets. In Jerusalem, Israeli police fired stun grenades, teargas and rubber bullets at one of Islam’s holiest sites, leaving 300 Palestinians injured. Could this get worse? Yes. The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to increase the intensity of attacks. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars as well as periodic battles. Though they often prepare their exits, events can have a momentum of their own.
The tinder was the decision of Israeli authorities to prevent Palestinians from gathering at the Damascus Gate following night-time prayers during Ramadan, as they normally do; a spate of intercommunal violence; and plans to evict hundreds of Palestinians from the homes they have lived in for decades in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, giving them to Jewish settlers. Under Israeli law, Jews who can prove a title from before the 1948 war can claim back properties in the city. This cannot be justified when no similar law exists for the Palestinians who lost their homes. The evictions have been described by a UN rights body as a possible war crime. Aggressive tactics used by police there and at al-Aqsa mosque reflect a culture of impunity. And only at the 11th hour, when the damage had already been done, was Monday’s provocative ultra-right march rerouted away from the Muslim quarter of the Old City.