Israel arrests 35 Palestinians in raids after violence spikes

Majority held from Issawiya and the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem over the last two days

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Israeli authorities have arrested at least 35 Palestinians over the last few days in raids following a spike in violence ahead of upcoming Jewish holidays, officials said on Thursday.

The arrests have occurred in annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank for reasons ranging from stolen property to suspicions of “terrorism.”

Israeli police carried out raids in Issawiya and the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem over the last two days, arresting 23 people, they said.

“Police operations took place to locate and seize arms and weapons, finding suspects involved in terrorist activity, in riots and criminal activity,” a statement said.

Weapons and ammunition had been seized, it said.

“As part of the police operation 23 suspects were arrested on suspicions of terrorism, rioting, possession of illegal weapons, drugs and stolen property,” police said.

Israel’s military confirmed 12 Palestinians had been arrested overnight in various parts of the West Bank, including four accused of being Hamas operatives and others suspected of unspecified illegal activity.

A spike in violence since Friday has shattered several weeks of calm, with at least nine attacks or attempted attacks by Palestinians since then, according to Israeli authorities.

Nearly all of the incidents have been stabbings or attempted stabbings, carried out by lone-wolf attackers, an Israeli military official said.

After a policewoman was left in serious condition from being stabbed in the neck, authorities confirmed officers were wearing a protective collar to block such attacks.

Palestinian officials have decried an increased Israeli security presence, saying there have been new checkpoints, with more villages closed off.

Israeli authorities have been keen to reduce the amount of guns in east Jerusalem and the West Bank in order to prevent a further escalation in violence.

The shooting deaths of two Israelis in the West Bank on October 1, 2015, helped set off a wave of violence that lasted months.

The unrest included clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem around the time of the Jewish high holidays.

The compound is the third holiest site for Muslims and the most sacred for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.
The Jewish high holidays in October see an increase in Jewish visitors to the site.

The site is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians fearing that Israel may one day seek to assert further control over it.

Violence since last October has killed 230 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.

Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks. Others were shot dead during protests or killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Many analysts say Palestinian frustration with Israeli occupation and settlement building in the West Bank, the complete lack of progress in peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have helped feed the unrest.

Israel says incitement by Palestinian leaders and media is a main cause of the violence.

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