When right-wing Jewish demonstrators flooded Jerusalem’s historic Old City on Saturday night, Palestinian shop owners closed their stores and residents went into their homes and locked the doors, according to a 27-year-old resident, Mirna Ansari.
“They were shouting ‘Death to Arabs!’ and banging on our doors with sticks. There have been so many soldiers and settlers [in the area] for the last four days – even before the last attack,” she told Al Jazeera, referring to the fatal stabbing of two Israelis by a 19-year-old Palestinian in Jerusalem earlier on Saturday.
In a separate incident, Fadi Alloun, 19, was also shot and killed by Israeli police early on Sunday morning. Police allege that he had tried to stab an Israeli teenager – a claim his family rejects.
Ansari, who lives with her family in the Old City, explained that “settlers were roaming around and going into Muslim areas. It was frightening, and we knew it was very dangerous”.
Among those alleged to have been involved were hard-line settlers, such as activist Baruch Marzel, and ultra-nationalist groups like Lehava, which campaigns against romantic relationships between Arabs and Jews and often calls for Palestinians to be killed.
With the exception of residents of the Old City, police announced on Sunday morning that Palestinians were banned from entering the area for 48 hours.
The soaring tensions have led to widespread clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, while settlers have carried out several attacks on Palestinian communities. More than half a million Israelis live in guarded, Jewish-only settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
According to the rights group Ahrar, settlers have carried out at least 126 attacks or acts of vandalism targeting Palestinians since Thursday. In addition to 25 physical attacks on Palestinians over the last five days, Ahrar has documented 35 instances of settlers vandalising homes and another 66 instances of smashing car windows.
On Monday morning, two Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy, were hospitalised after settlers attacked them outside the al-Arroub refugee camp near Hebron, according to local media reports.