EXPLAINER: New players add volatility in Jerusalem tensions

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Associated Press

In this Thursday, April 22, 2021 file photo, Israeli border police block members of "Lahava", a Jewish extremist group, from approaching the Damascus Gate to protest amid heightened tensions in the city, just outside Jerusalem's Old City. A year of relative calm between Israel and the Palestinians has come to an abrupt halt in recent days with the eruption of nightly clashes between Arab youths and Israeli police in east Jerusalem and a heavy barrage of rocket fire launched from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

JERUSALEM – The holy city of Jerusalem, a tinderbox of competing religious and political claims, has repeatedly triggered bouts of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

This time around, there have been some additional sparks, including Jewish extremists who, emboldened by their political patrons’ recent election to parliament, staged a provocative march to Jerusalem’s walled Old City chanting “death to the Arabs.”

Over the course of a few days, nightly Jerusalem street brawls between Israeli police and disaffected Palestinian residents of the city escalated to cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas. Gaza militants fired an intense barrage of rockets into southern Israel and Israel launched several airstrikes at Gaza.

Political posturing by Israeli and Palestinian leaders has added to the tense atmosphere.

Here is a closer look at what’s been driving the violence:


Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians claim all three areas for a future independent state, with east Jerusalem as their capital.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem, home to the city's most sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, after the war and views the entire city as its unified capital.