Jerusalem crisis: Pleas for calm as violence escalates

COUNTRIES worldwide have appealed for calm after days of unrest spiralled into retaliatory attacks by Israel and Palestinians.

The US, the European Union and the UK have urged Israel and the Palestinians to lower tensions as soon as possible.

The violence escalated on Monday night after Palestinian militants fired rockets towards Jerusalem.

In response, the Israeli military launched air strikes against militant targets in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian health officials in Gaza said 22 people, including nine children, had died in the strikes. Israel’s military said at least 15 members of the Hamas group that rules Gaza were among those killed.

Hamas had threatened to strike after hundreds of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police at a holy site in Jerusalem on Monday.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had “crossed a red line” and that Israel would respond “with great force”.

The past few days have seen the worst violence in Jerusalem for years, with confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at a holy compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The clashes came amid mounting Palestinian anger over the threatened eviction of families from their homes in East Jerusalem by Jewish settlers, fuelled by a month of altercations between protesters and police in the predominantly Arab part of the city.

Early on Tuesday, the Palestinian Red Crescent, a humanitarian group, said more than 700 Palestinians had been injured in clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and across the West Bank.