Israeli-Palestinian tensions soar after Gaza rocket lands in Israel

Violence continued to escalate between Palestinian militants and the Israeli military after a rocket was allegedly fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel over the weekend. Josef Federman of The Associated Press joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Jerusalem, to discuss the mounting unrest.

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    A wave of stabbings in Jerusalem's old city and unrest throughout Israel has prompted the Israeli government to step up security. In the past week and a half, stabbings by Palestinians have killed four Israelis and wounded at least ten more. Israeli police responding to the attacks and troops confronting Palestinian protesters have killed at least 20 Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank. Israel's military said today a rocket had been fired from Gaza into southern Israel.

    Joining me now via Skype from Jerusalem to discuss the escalating unrest is Josef Federman of "The Associated Press.

    Josef, thanks for joining us. What's the latest?


    We have some more violence today. There appears to have stabbings in Jerusalem, more demonstrations in the West Bank and some deadly violence on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip


    On the one hand, you've got protesters marching and on the other hand you seem to have random attacks that have hard to predict in different parts of the country now.


    Yes, it's really — it's something that Israel hadn't dealt with before, at least on this level. The attacks do not seem to be organized. They don't seem to be coming from above. They're sort of ground-level violence. So, it's very hard to defend yourself.

    What you have is a country that is just sort of very jittery, very nervous, and everybody looking over their shoulders


    You know, this is probably the 15th time that people thought this is the next intifada or uprising. I mean, what are the — what do people on the street feel, on both side of this?


    Look, it's very easy — the easy thing to say is here we are entering a new intifada and there are a lot of similarities. The level of violence, the fact that this is dragging on, the fact that it doesn't seem to be stopping. But there are also some key differences. In the past, the intifada violence were organized from the top down.

    A decade ago, 15 years ago, when it started, you had Yasser Arafat in charge of the Palestinians. He had armed forces who were involved. This time, you have Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas, in charge of the Palestinians, where he is committed to nonviolence. He is not calling the shots on this thing.

    So, again, it's hard to — you're talking apples and owners here, and it's very hard to say where this is heading


    And what's the Israeli political response to this then?


    Well, you have Prime Minister Netanyahu dealing with different pressures from different directions. You know, he's a nationalist. He has a hard-line cabinet. So, he's under a lot of pressure to respond tough and you'll see him when he makes his public statements. He talks tough. He talks about the need for the country to band together, how to stop terrorism.

    But on the other hand, he's also urging restraint, and most noticeably, a couple of days ago, he called on lawmakers to stay away from the Temple Mount, this area in Jerusalem that's at the heart of all the unrest.


    And what's the security situation like in some of these specific areas? Do you see an increased police presence?


    Yes, I actually went for a walk through the old city where a lot of the attacks have been happening. I went through the old city two days ago, and it was quite a chilling experience. I walked from Damascus gate, which is in the heart of the Palestinian side of the old city, over to the Western Wall, which is the Jewish side.

    And really, every 50 yards, every 100 yards, there were groups of policemen, sort of miniature checkpoints, as you walked through the alleyways, patrols everywhere. I've been here over a decade. I've never seen anything like that before.


    Josef Federman of "The Associated Press" joining us via Skype from Jerusalem — thanks so much.


    Thank you.

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