UN Security Council in session. - File

The United Arab Emirates and China on Tuesday called for a UN Security Council meeting after Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir entered Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards in occupied East Jerusalem amid warnings of unrest. 

The Council is expected to convene on Thursday, diplomats said.

The visit drew fierce condemnation across the world, with the US, Israel’s closest ally, expressing deep concern over the recent developments.

”We’re deeply concerned by any unilateral actions that have the potential to exacerbate tensions precisely because we want to see the opposite happen,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said

”The United States stands firmly for the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem.”

He added that any unilateral actions undercutting the status quo are ”unacceptable.”

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognised by the international community.

PALESTINIAN BOY KILLED: Israeli forces killed a child in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry reported, as Israel said police officers fired on people throwing Molotov cocktails.

The health ministry announced “the death of the child Adam Essam Shaker Ayyad, 15, with a bullet in the chest fired by the occupation soldiers during the aggression on Bethlehem at dawn today.” Israel’s military said rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at border police officers during an operation in Bethlehem’s Dheisheh refugee camp.

“The forces fired toward Molotov cocktails (sic) hurlers who risked their lives, hits were identified,” the army said in a statement. The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported clashes erupted when Israeli forces entered Dheisheh, in the southern occupied West Bank, to search houses.

Ayyad is the third Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the start of the year.

On Monday two Palestinian men were shot dead in the northern city of Jenin, when clashes broke out as the army demolished the homes of two Palestinians accused of killing an Israeli soldier in September.

More than 150 Palestinians and 26 Israelis were killed last year across Israel and the West Bank, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, according to a tally.

In December, the United Nations said 2022 was the deadliest year in the West Bank since its records began in 2005.

The inauguration last week of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has sparked fears of a military escalation in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. Two of Netanyahu’s extreme-right coalition partners have taken charge of critical powers regarding the West Bank.

Bezalel Smotrich holds the portfolio for Israeli settlement policy in the territory, while Itamar Ben-Gvir serves as national security minister with powers over the border police force which operate there. Both have a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.

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