Israeli soldiers killed six young Palestinians on Friday in the Gaza Strip, including a 15-year-old boy, as they opened fire to quell crowds that hurled rocks and rolled burning tires close to the fence separating Gaza from Israel, Israeli military and Gaza health officials said.
The deadly clash came as the roiling violence and unrest of the past week continued across Israel and the occupied West Bank; there were four more stabbing attacks, including the first by a Jewish Israeli against Arabs, and unruly demonstrations that raged into the night.
The deteriorating landscape presented intense political challenges for both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Neither is ready to make a dramatic diplomatic move that could ease the conflict, yet the spiraling situation tests their ability to maintain control of restive constituencies.
For Mr. Abbas, who has preached nonviolence for his entire tenure, the escalating unrest undermines his credibility with international supporters and benefits his more militant rivals, like the Hamas Islamists, who have egged on the attackers.
For Mr. Netanyahu, who has made fighting terrorism the centerpiece of his political life and is still reeling from his failure to stop the Iran nuclear deal, the crisis has exacerbated tensions in his narrow, conservative coalition and left many Israelis asking why he cannot keep their streets safe.
“This upsurge represents a rejection of Abbas’s entire strategy that he’s been working on for most of his adult life,” observed Nathan Thrall, an analyst for the International Crisis Group in Jerusalem. He also said the escalation “looks bad for Israel’s image in the world — you see Palestinian protesters against an occupying army,” especially as Mr. Netanyahu prepares to meet with President Obama in a few weeks to repair their tattered relations.
“You are essentially creating new pressure on moving on the Palestinian issue at a time when he is hoping to have a nice, quiet meeting in Washington where they’re compensating him for the Iran deal,” he explained, “and instead he’s going to also have to talk about what he’s going to do to lower the flames.”
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SOURCE: JODI RUDOREN
The New York Times