A wave of Israeli-Palestinian clashes since 2015

Palestinians step on crossed-out posters depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump during a tent city protest near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2018

A wave of Israeli-Palestinian clashes since 2015

JERUSALEM: Clashes erupt between Israeli police and Palestinians in September 2015 the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City. They last three days and the unrest spreads across Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

• On Oct. 1, a settler couple are killed when Palestinians fire on their vehicle in the West Bank. The violence spirals as young Palestinians clash with Israeli troops and Jewish settlers, followed by a series of knife attacks targeting Israelis.

• On Oct. 9, seven young Palestinians are killed by Israeli fire during clashes at the Gaza border. Days later, following a rocket attack, Israel carries out a retaliatory raid on Gaza, killing a pregnant Palestinian woman and her daughter.

• In January, a Palestinian stabs a nurse to death in front of her children in an Israeli settlement. On Jan. 1, an Israeli Arab fires on shopfronts in Tel Aviv, killing two before being shot down.

• In June, two Palestinians fire on customers in a bustling area of the city, killing four before being arrested. Over a few days in June and July, four Palestinian attacks leave two Israelis and three attackers are killed.

• Jerusalem, bitterly disputed between Israelis and Palestinians, is the scene of frequent attacks throughout 2017.

• In January, four Israeli soldiers are killed when a Palestinian rams his truck into a group of soldiers visiting the city. The driver is killed on the spot.

• In July, three Israeli Arabs shoot dead two Israeli police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City before being shot themselves in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israel, saying weapons were hidden inside the compound, bars access for two days and imposes stringent security measures, including metal detectors and surveillance cameras.
Tensions spiral into clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Worshippers gather for protest prayers outside the compound.
Under international pressure, Israel withdraws its metal detectors, later removing the remaining new security measures.

• On Oct. 12, members of the militant groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas are killed when Israel blows up a tunnel from Gaza into its territory.

• In December, US President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in defiance of advice from world leaders, sparking outrage from Palestinians. Trump orders the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, set to take place in May 2018.

• In January, a rabbi, Raziel Shevah, is shot dead near the settlement where he lived. Three Palestinian suspects are killed. Two days later, Israeli fire kills two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

• In February, a Palestinian fatally stabs an Israeli in the West Bank and two weeks after that, two Palestinians are killed near Rafah.

• On March 16, two Israeli soldiers are killed in the West Bank in a Palestinian truck attack. A Palestinian later stabs an Israeli officer in Jerusalem’s old town, seriously injuring him before being killed.

Aleppo’s scattered business owners have yet to return home

Updated 50 min 52 sec ago

Aleppo’s scattered business owners have yet to return home

  • The recovery of businesses will depend on whether people will return to Syria or not
  • Most of the shop owners travelled to Turkey and Egypt

ALEPPO: In the old khan, a stone courtyard off Aleppo’s medieval souk, most of the 41 cloth shops are deserted. Many of the owners moved elsewhere or went abroad to escape fighting in the historic Syrian city, a major economic center before the war.
“Some started new work outside Syria and won’t return. Some who stayed opened new shops in other parts of the country,” said Mohammed Abu Zeid, one of two cloth merchants still operating.
Syria’s economy has been upturned by eight years of war that partitioned the country between rival forces and displaced millions of people. Hundreds of thousands of workers were conscripted into the army or joined rebel groups and Western powers have imposed sweeping sanctions.
Any recovery will largely depend on whether people return home, including local business owners. The empty stores in Khan Khair Bek show that most have stayed away and it may be some time before business resumes.
Although parts of western Aleppo, which was held by the government through the war, still have busy shopping areas, the city’s factories and wholesale trading businesses have been devastated by war damage and the departure of traders.
Textiles were a mainstay of Aleppo business until the start of the war in 2011. The khan in the Souk Al-Zarb section of the battered Old City was a textile hub. Merchants kept their wares and conducted wholesale business in the shops. When Reuters first visited in early 2017, weeks after the fighting ended, the khan was closed and the domed entranceway was waist-deep in debris including bullet casings and the tail fin of a mortar bomb.
Thirteen shop owners moved abroad, mostly to Egypt or Turkey. Of those still in Syria, six moved to Damascus or other cities, and started new businesses. Another seven who remained in Aleppo have also stopped dealing in cloth, Abu Zeid said.
Ten others are working in the cloth trade from market stalls or rented shops in other parts of Aleppo. Just two, Abu Zeid and Zakariya Azizeh, reopened in the khan earlier this year. They did not know the whereabouts of several other neighbors.
About half Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million were uprooted during the conflict, with more than 5 million seeking refuge abroad.
Some refugees have started returning, but most are unwilling to go back yet, citing a fear of reprisals, the danger of renewed conflict, economic hardship and problems with paperwork.
Economic troubles
Azizeh said he was trying to persuade his former neighbors to come back.
“We cannot export and we have banking problems from sanctions. The system depends on credit, but I haven’t any money,” he said.
President Bashar Assad said Syria now faces an economic war waged through Western sanctions. They make any movement of money in or out of Syria very difficult, paralysing trade even with close allies such as Russia and Iran and making any return to Syria less attractive for business owners.
Abu Zeid believes most of the those who left the khan will eventually return. Many still own their premises.
“This is the best khan for import-export. The others, they tell us ‘one month, two months, we will come back’,” he said.
His cousin, Ahmed Abu Zeid, 63, a cousin of Mohammed Abu Zeid, has continued doing some business from home as it would cost several thousand dollars to replace stock and repair his war-damaged shop, near a mulberry tree.
“We all worked here from when we were children. I used to climb this tree and so did my son,” he said. He hopes his grandson Ahmed, 8, will one day work there too.
The two main centers of Aleppan business — the Old City souk and the industrial zones on the city’s outskirts — were on the front lines and suffered from heavy shellfire and looting.
Shops and warehouses were stripped of their inventories, factories and workshops of their equipment and machinery. Many are pocked with bullet or shell holes and filled with rubble.
Aleppo’s power plant was destroyed and electricity supplies from other parts of government-held Syria are limited. Water provision is patchy. One of the main industrial zones, Belleramoun, is near a front line and has been repeatedly shelled by rebels.
In the souk outside the khan, a group had gathered to chat on plastic chairs. They recited lists of friends and neighbors who had left.
“Some of them have come back to see what the situation is like. When they see it, they go away again,” said Mohammed Fadel, dressed in a suit and waving a lit cigarette as he spoke.
He had two shops in the souk, both now closed, and a textile workshop with four machines and 400 workers running round the clock and exporting across the Middle East, Fadel said.
He now plans to leave Syria and go to live in the Netherlands, where his son is.
“What can I do? I sit here all day doing nothing,” he said.