The ‘Middle Colonies’ are a group of mostly rural towns and villages that span parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where the Israeli government maintains a special status and Jewish settlers are not allowed to live.
These communities are predominantly Palestinian, but many of the settlers are also from the Israeli Arab minority.
There are several sects in the Middle Colonies, with many Orthodox Jews, some Christians and Muslims.
Most of the Middle East is governed by the Islamic State (IS), a terrorist group.
However, the IS is a moderate Sunni Islamist group that has received support from some Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
According to a 2011 study by the Middle States Institute for Near East Policy (MENA), there are between 1.5 and 2 million Jews living in Israel, making up between 1 and 3 percent of the population.
In 2015, a wave of attacks on synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in the West bank and in East Jerusalem killed at least two Israeli civilians, including a 16-year-old girl.
The Israeli government has blamed the violence on the Palestinian leadership and blamed the Islamic militants for the attacks.
In 2017, the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge, which has been dubbed Operation Protective Shield after the IDF’s term of service in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
According a military spokesman, the campaign is aimed at stopping Palestinian incitement to terrorism and combating terrorism.
However in 2017, a senior Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Times that the operation was meant to deter attacks by the Israeli army.
“Our aim is to prevent the Israeli occupation from killing our people, but also to create conditions in which the security forces and the Palestinian people are able to live in peace and coexist peacefully,” Mahmoud Al-Ja’afari, the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), told the newspaper.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) also denied that its security forces had carried out attacks in the past.
“There is no doubt that we have carried out several terror attacks against Israelis,” the PA’s spokesman said in a statement.
“We will never allow the Israeli security forces to target our people.”
In the West Jerusalem area, a number of Jewish settlements have been built around Palestinian areas in the occupied West Bank.
In recent years, Palestinians have been using the areas as a base to carry out attacks on Israeli citizens, mainly Jewish Israelis, and Jewish shops.
In the past, Israeli authorities have cracked down on the Israeli settlers, sometimes with deadly force, for breaking the rules of the road and vandalising Palestinian properties.
According an Israeli court ruling, in October 2017, Israeli settlers vandalised a mosque in the Old City, near the city’s iconic Dome of the Rock, and destroyed the site.
The court ruling also said that Israeli settlers in the area illegally built a fence, which was then used by the Palestinian militants to launch attacks on the security installations.
The incident led to protests in the region, with Palestinians saying the Israeli authorities had failed to stop the incitement.