Updated on: May 16, 2021 / 7:40 PM
By Haley Ott
/ CBS News
As of Sunday, more than 180 Palestinians and eight Israelis have so far been killed in the most severe violence to occur in the region in years. Here’s a look at why it’s happening.
Why is violence flaring up in Israel and Gaza right now?
There were two main triggers that ignited the current crisis.
Protests erupted after attempts were made to evict a number of Palestinians from their homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Those specific evictions have been paused by Israel’s Supreme Court, but they’re part of a long-term campaign supported by the Israeli government to move Jewish settlers into Palestinian neighborhoods in the disputed area of east Jerusalem, which was occupied after the 1967 war and later annexed by Israel in a move that has not been recognized by the international community.
There were also restrictions imposed on Palestinians during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ended on Wednesday. For years, Israeli-Arabs and Palestinians have gathered at the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City to celebrate during Ramadan. This year, Israeli police erected barricades in the area and restricted the number of people permitted to enter.
After a series of protests the barricades were removed, but then Israeli police stormed the area around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, also known as the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites in Islam and Judaism, currently managed by an Islamic endowment called the Waqf. Muslims are allowed to pray there, but Jews and Christians are not. The Israeli police said they were responding to Israeli Arabs having gathered stones to use in a later riot. Palestinian witnesses said fighting began after police entered the compound and fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in the raid. The Israeli police said at least 21 officers were also hurt.
One of the two main Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip, is run by the Hamas group. Considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Israel, Hamas issued an ultimatum to Israel to remove its forces from Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa. It then started firing rockets into Israel, prompting the Israeli military to launch airstrikes. Tanks have also since been used by Israel to target tunnels that run between Gaza and Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Force.
Hundreds of Palestinians have demonstrated in the West Bank, and at least 11 have been shot and killed by Israeli police during clashes there, according to The Associated Press.