Israel reinforces security after uptick in violence

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israel deployed additional forces in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank ahead of weekly Muslim prayers Friday, a day after a deadly uptick in violence.

Two Palestinians were killed in clashes in the West Bank on Thursday and an Arab Israeli was shot dead after opening fire on police near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City.

Fourteen Israelis were injured in a car ramming targeting soldiers in Jerusalem the same day.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians were expected to pray at noon at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis that is holy to both religions and known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP there was "heightened security in Jerusalem," including extra police units, particularly "in and around the area of the Old City".

"The main focus is increased security to respond to any incidents that take place in and around the Old City after Friday prayers."

The army also announced additional troop deployment in the West Bank.

Two Palestinians were killed in clashes between the Israeli army and stone-throwing demonstrators in the northern city of Jenin Thursday.

In Jerusalem a man drove his car into a group of Israeli soldiers, injuring 14 before fleeing the scene, officials said.

He was later arrested and is being questioned, Rosenfeld said, adding that there had been no new security incidents since Thursday evening.

The rise in violence comes a week after US President Donald Trump released a long-delayed plan for the Middle East that angered the Palestinians.

It would grant Israel a number of its long-held goals, including full control of disputed Jerusalem and a green light to annex all settlements and other parts of the West Bank.

In exchange the Palestinians would be offered a state in the remaining parts of the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas immediately rejected the plan and called for street demonstrations.

Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and chief architect of the plan, said Thursday that Abbas "does have a responsiblity" for the uptick in violence.

"He calls for days of rage in response and he said that even before he saw the plan," Kushner told reporters after briefing UN Security Council members on the plan behind closed doors in New York.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Twitter Friday that Kushner's plan had "enabled Israel to move ahead with further annexation/colonization.

"But he blames President Abbas because according to those like him, our mere existence and rights...are the problem," Erekat added.