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Anger Grows in Jerusalem as Israel Intensifies its Crackdown

Both tension and rhetoric remain high in Jerusalem, as Israel deployed hundreds more security forces around the city on Friday and vowed to "declare war" on Palestinian stone-throwers.

by Reuters and VICE News
Sep 18 2015, 5:15pm

Abed al-Haslhamoun/EPA

Both tension and rhetoric remain high in Jerusalem, as Israel deployed hundreds more security forces around the city on Friday and vowed to "declare war" on Palestinian stone-throwers.

Adding to the violence in the city, which is now entering its sixth day, are plans by Israel to allow police to use live fire to shoot anyone seen throwing stones. On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Israel will "declare war on those who throw stones and firebombs," starting by "sharpening the open fire orders."  Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not elaborate further on what this meant. 

Netanyahu's comments come a day after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that Israel has been too "merciful" on Palestinian stone-throwers so far and that police should use live ammunition to quell demonstrations, according to the Times of Israel.

21 Palestinians and three Israeli security forces were injured in clashes across the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Friday, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

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The use of live bullets on stone-throwers in Jerusalem marks a major shift in Israeli security tactics, which up until now only allowed the military to open fire on demonstrators in the West Bank. In addition to revising the policies governing the use of live ammo, Israel deployed an additional 800 police and army forces, including some undercover, in the predominantly Palestinian section of East Jerusalem, reported Haaretz. Israel's parliament also approved calling up reservists from the border police to assist in the situation, according to the Israeli paper.

On Friday, Israeli forces fanned out mostly to areas near a contested holy site, referred to by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif and Jews as the Temple Mount, where clashes have been ongoing for the past week. On Sunday, Israeli security forces raided the complex outside the al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits atop the site, in advance of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashana. Palestinian protesters responded by throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli forces.

Israel has also banned all Palestinian men under the age of 40 from praying at the mosque on Friday, which is the Muslim holy day. Rather than calming the situation, the move seems to have only increased anger from Palestinians toward Israel.

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Palestinian protests marking "a day of rage" were planned in several cities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus. Israeli forces shot and critically wounded at least one Palestinian on Friday in Nablus, the army said, after he reportedly threw a firebomb at an Israeli soldier.

Protests have also spread to neighboring Jordan, where more than a thousand people demonstrated in the capital of Amman against Israel's security crackdown at the Jerusalem holy site. 

Watch VICE News' documentary Crime & Punishment in the Gaza Strip: 

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violence
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east jerusalem
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stone throwing
Al Aqsa
haram al-sharif
conflict and war