The rising violence in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem has been compared to the Second Intifada by CIA Director William Burns following his recent visit to the region.
"I was a senior US diplomat 20 years ago during the Second Intifada, and I'm concerned — as are my colleagues in the intelligence community — that a lot of what we're seeing today has a very unhappy resemblance to some of those realities that we saw then too," Burns said last week in an interview at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Washington.
The Second Intifada began on 28 September 2000, when the then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon entered Al-Aqsa Mosque with a heavily armed contingent of Israeli security forces. The incursion provoked a strong Palestinian response. The subsequent uprising lasted five years and left over 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis dead.
"The conversations I've had with Israeli and Palestinian leaders left me quite concerned about the prospects for even greater fragility and even greater violence between Israelis and Palestinians," added Burns. "Part of the responsibility of my agency is to work as closely as we can with both the Palestinian security services and the Israeli security services to prevent the kind of explosions of violence that we've seen in recent weeks. That's going to be a big challenge, and I'm concerned about that dimension of the landscape in the Middle East as well."
The CIA director's comments were made amid mounting tension across the occupied Palestinian territories following an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin last week during which ten Palestinians were killed, including a 67-year-old woman. Seven Israelis were later killed in a shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem.
Moreover, Israeli forces killed five Palestinian men and wounded six others on Sunday night during a raid on Jericho in the east of the occupied West Bank.
OPINION: The siege of Aqabat Jabr is a sign of Israel's bankrupt politics and security