The Israeli government’s war on the Palestinians is about to become a war on Islam

By David Zurawik, Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem correspondentA day after Israeli authorities arrested six people over the death of a Palestinian who was shot and killed by an Israeli settler, the Israeli government is preparing to go to war with Islam.

In the coming days, Israel will launch its largest military operation since a devastating 2008 war with Hamas, when thousands of Palestinian civilians were killed in the coastal enclave.

It will also intensify its crackdown on the Gaza Strip, which has seen hundreds of Palestinians die from Israeli air raids.

The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the killings, saying “the killing of innocent civilians is intolerable, intolerable and an attack on our religion and our dignity”.

“It is an assault on the very essence of the Palestinian people and it is an attack against their people,” he said.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will also announce that Israel will send troops to the Gaza border and a new military command.

“The purpose of this offensive is to take back the territories from Hamas,” said Yaakov Amidror, a spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces.

“It is to restore security and stability in the area and to make sure that Israel is not attacked again by Hamas.”

In recent months, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces has risen dramatically.

The last time Israel killed a Palestinian was in April 2014.

More than 500 Palestinians, including at least 11 children, have died in the conflict since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

More than 100,000 Palestinians have fled their homes since the Israeli offensive began on 8 July.

At least 5,000 have been injured, including more than 100 in recent days.

The death of 21-year-old Mohammed al-Kahsh, a student from Gaza, was the latest in a string of high-profile incidents.

He was shot dead by an off-duty Israeli police officer outside a local bar in the central city of Ashkelon on Sunday.

His body was later found in the Gaza desert.

Abbas also condemned the killing, saying the killing of civilians is unacceptable and an assault in the name of Islam.

“There is no place for the killing and killing of people who are innocent,” he told a televised news conference on Monday.

“The death and destruction that Israel has caused and the suffering of the Palestinians are intolerable and unacceptable.”

Abbas said the attacks were aimed at deterring Palestinian violence.

“They want to turn our people into dust and to deprive them of their dignity and their freedom,” he added.

“Our people are the real targets and they are the ones that are to be stopped.”

“We call on our brothers and sisters who are in the Palestinian territories to stand against the occupation and stop these crimes,” he warned.