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Blinken in Middle East Amid Mounting Violence Following Jenin Raid and Attack on Jewish Worshipers

HeadlineJan 30, 2023

Tensions between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are reaching a boiling point following a spate of recent attacks, which have escalated since Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank Thursday, killing 10 people, including two children. On Friday, a gunman killed seven people near a Jerusalem synagogue at the start of the Jewish Sabbath. Over the weekend, Israelis living in illegal settlements in the West Bank carried out scores of attacks on Palestinians. At least four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the Jenin attack, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed by Israelis since the start of the year to 35, eight of them children.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will expedite gun permits for Israeli citizens. This is Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Itamar Ben-Gvir: “I want weapons on the streets. I want Israeli citizens to be able to protect themselves. We saw this in today’s attack near the city of David. If people have weapons, they will protect themselves.”

Meanwhile, another protest brought tens of thousands of Israelis to the streets of Tel Aviv this weekend to call out the mounting violence and attempts by the new far-right coalition government to diminish judicial powers.

Assaf Steinberg: “What we are trying to tell this government is that the need for democracy, the need for peace, the need for prosperity should be the backbone of what we are here for. And that’s what we should strive for, a democratic state that strives for peace.”

This all comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem today during an official visit to the region. He is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah Tuesday. Blinken already met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo during the first leg of his Middle East trip. Blinken says he stressed human rights during his talks with Egyptian officials. Egypt is a major recipient of U.S. military funding despite its brutal suppression of dissent and the press, including the widespread jailing of political prisoners.

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