Violence mounts in West Bank, Gaza in lead-up to Obama visit

Unrest is growing in the Palestinian territories ahead of President Barack Obama's first visit to Israel on March 20. 

Riots and protests have erupted throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent days, prompting some Israeli officials and Middle East observers to warn that Obama's visit could spark a third intifada. 

"The Palestinians have not said the final word yet, and we expect that there will be attempts to take advantage of the upcoming events, like the visit by Barack Obama, in order to continue the violence," Israel public security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich was quoted as saying Monday by news outlet Arutz Sheva. 

Hamas officials have warned that Obama's visit will further fracture its relations with the Palestinian Authority and have even stated that a presidential visit to Jerusalem's Temple Mount will be viewed as a declaration of war. 

Hamas official Mushir al-Masri "called for a third intifada [or uprising] and for Egyptian assistance in the 'resistance' if Obama chooses to visit the Temple Mount," the site of Muslim places of worship, Arutz Sheva reported on Friday. 

Former United States officials and Middle East experts said that the rising tide of violence is causing great anxiety in the final days before Obama touches down in Tel Aviv. 

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