RAMALLAH: Palestinian sources have warned that Israel has no intention of de-escalating during Ramadan, following a weekend of attacks in the West Bank and incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque.
On Sunday, four Israeli settlers threw flammable material at the house of Ahmed Awashreh in Sinjil north of Ramallah, a village repeatedly targeted by settlers from Givat Harel, Shilo and Ma’ale Libouna.
It comes weeks after fierce settler attacks on Huwara, Burin, and Qaryut, south of Nablus, where dozens of homes and vehicles were burned.
Awashra, 35, said he and his family of six had to flee for their lives and it was a miracle no one was killed.
Palestinian leaders have warned of a repeat of the 2015 attack in Duma, south of Nablus, when settlers burned the house of the Dawabsha family.
Ali Dawabsha, who was 18 months old, was killed in the fire while his parents, Saad and Riham, died of their injuries days later. Their four-year-old son, Ahmed, suffered severe burns but survived.
Yossi Dagan, head of the Israeli Settlements Council in the northern West Bank, on Sunday opened an office near Huwara to protest against the lack of security for settlers passing through the area.
The move is reminiscent of Itamar Ben-Gvir, minister for internal security, who set up an office in the Sheikh Jarrah area of East Jerusalem last year when Palestinians resisted the attempted seizure of their homes by settlers.
Meanwhile early on Sunday, the Israeli army arrested five Palestinians from Tulkarem and Huwara and closed off Nablus hours after two Israeli soldiers were wounded in a drive-by shooting in Huwara.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that it had carried out the attack.
Dozens of settlers gathered in Huwara and attacked Palestinian vehicles with stones near the Deir Sharaf roundabout in northern Nablus, leaving some cars damaged.
Elsewhere, dozens of heavily armed settlers stormed the Old City of Hebron on Saturday night, chanting racist slogans amid a heavy deployment of the Israeli forces.
Israeli police officers and border guards meanwhile stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Saturday, forced all worshipers to leave, seized phones and arrested two people, Palestinian sources said.
Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the imam of Al-Aqsa, told Arab News that Israel was prosecuting a fierce campaign against the mosque that violated the freedom to worship.
“We did not see any facilities from the Israeli authorities during this Ramadan. Rather, we saw thousands of people gather at the Qalandia and Bethlehem checkpoints after the occupation prevented them from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform Friday prayers,” Sabri said.
Sabri added that the influx of worshippers to Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, whose numbers have exceeded those of previous years, is a response to Israel.
He said that a further tension and escalation depended on the actions of Israel.
“It depends entirely on the actions and procedures of the occupation. If the situation escalates, there will be tension, and if it does not, calm will prevail,” Sabri. “Whoever calls for calm must not take any action that provokes the feelings of Muslims."
The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the incursions into Al-Aqsa and the ongoing incitement by settlers. It said the eviction of worshippers was a crime and an offense against the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Ramadan.