At least 205 Palestinians and 17 officers were injured Friday after Israeli police stormed and dispersed worshippers from Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, and in clashes around East Jerusalem, Reuters reported.
The invasion, which occurred during Friday night Ramadan prayer, sparked a face off outside the mosque, and Palestinian worshippers responded to the rubber-coated metal bullets and stun grenades fired by the Israeli police by hurling rocks.
At least 178 Palestinian protesters were injured, and 88 hospitalised, Red Crescent, a national humanitarian organisation, said.
One of the injured lost an eye, two suffered serious head wounds and two had their jaws fractured, the group noted, adding that most of the rest of the injuries were minor.
The clash is an escalation of weeks of violence in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. There have also been nightly clashes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, an area Palestinians face a potential eviction.
An overwhelming number of residents in the neighbourhood are Palestinians, but it is also home to a site revered by religious Jews as the tomb of an ancient high priest, Simon the Just.
Police used water cannons mounted on armoured vehicles to disperse several hundred protesters gathered near the homes of families facing potential eviction, Reuters reported.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised the “courageous stand” of the protesters and said on Palestine TV that Israel bore full responsibility for the violence.
Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more violence in the coming days.
Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” (Night of Destiny), the most sacred in the fasting month of Ramadan. Thousands of worshippers are expected to gather for intense nighttime prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.
The same night marks the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of East Jerusalem. On Monday, Israel’s Supreme Court is expected to issue a verdict on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions.
The United Nations has urged Israel to call off any forced evictions in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, warning that its actions could amount to “war crimes.”
“We call on Israel to immediately call off all forced evictions,” UN rights office spokesman, Rupert Colville, said.
“We wish to emphasise that East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which international humanitarian law applies,” Mr Colville added.
“The occupying power… cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory,” he said, adding that transferring civilian populations into occupied territory was illegal under international law and “may amount to war crimes.”
The U.S. said it was “deeply concerned” about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.
We are extremely concerned about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem, including on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah. We call on Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to deescalate tensions & bring a halt to the violence. https://t.co/WV5adgCfmS
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) May 8, 2021
“There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan,” Department of State spokesman, Ned Price, tweeted. “This includes Friday’s attack on Israeli soldiers and reciprocal ‘price tag’ attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, which we condemn in no uncertain terms.”
Some have criticised the U.S. and the international community of not doing enough to end hostilities between Israel and Palestine and delivering justice for the displaced Palestinians. Some observers have also called the forceful occupation as ethnic cleansing.
A Human Rights Watch report indicted Israel for committing ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians, saying the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied Palestinians territory.
Turkish president’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said the “disgraceful attacks on Masjid al-Aqsa in this holy month of fasting” was shameful.
Shame on Israel and those who keep silent in the face of disgraceful attacks on Masjid al-Aqsa in this holy month of fasting.
Palestine and the Palestinians are not alone.
We call on everyone to stand up against the policies of occupation and aggression of this apartheid state.
— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) May 7, 2021
Neighboring Saudi Arabia and Jordan (which made peace with Israel in 1994 and is the custodian of Al-Aqsa) have both condemned the attack with the latter saying “Israel’s continuation of its illegal practices and provocative steps” in the city is a “dangerous game.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry has also accused the Palestinians of seizing on the threatened evictions, which it described as a “real-estate dispute between private parties,” in order to incite violence.
Regrettably, the PA and Palestinian terror groups are presenting a real-estate dispute between private parties, as a nationalistic cause, in order to incite violence in Jerusalem (1/2)
— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) May 7, 2021
“The (Palestinian Authority) and Palestinian terror groups will bear full responsibility for the violence emanating from their actions. The Israel police will ensure public order is maintained,” the ministry said in a tweet.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza from Palestine in the 1967 Mideast war. It annexed East Jerusalem and views the entire city as its capital. Although, internationally, it is not recognised so.
Palestine also views East Jerusalem — which houses major holy sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims — as their capital.
Disputes over the lands have resulted in year-long violence and legal battle with casualties on both sides, but more to the Palestinians.
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