Jerusalem: Many injured on second night of clashes

Palestinians and Israeli police clash in Jerusalem. Photo: 8 May 2021

Reuters

Clashes have broken out for the second consecutive night between Palestinians and Israeli police in Jerusalem, with dozens reported injured.

Protesters hurled stones at the police and lit fires at Damascus Gate in the Old City, and officers responded by firing stun grenades and water cannon.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said at least 80 Palestinians were injured, and 14 were taken to hospital.

Israeli police said at least one officer was hurt.

It follows days of simmering unrest over possible evictions of Palestinians from land claimed by Jewish settlers.

On Friday, more than 200 Palestinians and at least 17 Israeli police were hurt in skirmishes near Al-Aqsa mosque, medics and police said.

Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque complex is one of Islam’s most revered sites, but its location is also the holiest site in Judaism, known as the Temple Mount. The complex is a frequent flashpoint for violence, but Friday’s was among the worst in years.

The Quartet of Middle East negotiators – the US, the EU, Russia and the UN – on Saturday expressed “deep concern” over the spiralling violence.

What’s the latest?

Saturday’s clashes broke out at Damascus Gate after tens of thousands of worshippers had prayed at Al-Aqsa mosque for Laylat al-Qadr, the most holy night in the Muslim month of Ramadan.

An injured Palestinian woman is led to safety in Jerusalem. Photo: 8 May 2021

Reuters

Earlier on Saturday, Israeli police had stopped dozens of buses carrying worshippers to the mosque, and a number of Palestinians were arrested after Friday’s violence.

“They do not want us to pray. There is a fight every day, every day there are clashes. Every day there are troubles,” Mahmoud al-Marbua, 27, told Reuters news agency.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was acting responsibly to ensure law and order while maintaining freedom of worship.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned what he said were Israel’s “sinful attacks”.

What’s the background to this?

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war and considers the entire city its capital, though this is not recognised by the vast majority of the international community.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a hoped-for independent state.

Tensions have been rising over the threatened eviction of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Shaikh Jarrah district.

The UN says Israel should call off any evictions and employ “maximum restraint in the use of force” against protesters.

The League of Arab States has called on the international community to intervene to prevent any forced evictions.

Israel’s Supreme Court is expected to hold a hearing on the long-running legal case on Monday.

Temple Mount map