Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police in one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites on Monday as tensions continue to escalate in the city.
Social media footage shows Israeli police inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its adjoining compound throwing stun grenades and Palestinians throwing stones at officers. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, about 50 wounded Palestinians were taken to hospital for treatment.
The clashes took place hours before the annual march through Jerusalem’s Old City, as Israelis mark the day that the Israeli army took control of the Western Wall and the rest of East Jerusalem in 1967.
In previous years, the march had been a hot spot, with Palestinian residents of the Old City complaining that the procession was provocatively marching along the main street of the Muslim quarter. Authorities are discussing imposing route restrictions this year to reduce the likelihood of a confrontation.
A Palestinian flees tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces in front of the Dome of the Rock on Monday.
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem on Monday.
In addition, tensions escalated on Monday when a vehicle crashed into two pedestrians near the Old Town entrance at the Lion’s Gate after being stoned, according to video footage of the incident. The vehicle containing the religious Israelis was attacked by young Palestinians as they tried to change direction before speeding up and climbing the curb, throwing the two Palestinians back.
Police said the driver had lost control of the vehicle and that his passengers were slightly injured. So far, nothing is known about the condition of the two Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has supported police in fighting the escalating tensions in Jerusalem in recent weeks, which he described Monday as a fight for the heart of the city. He said Israel is committed to ensuring the rights of everyone in order to follow its faith.
One of the main sources of growing unrest in recent days is the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarah district. Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday adjourned an appeal hearing in a long-running court case.
The Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians in the area and elsewhere for several weeks now, Palestinians accuse Jewish nationalists of provocation, and the police of harsh tactics.
A pro-settler organization called Nahalat Shimon uses the 1970 law to prove that the land was owned by Jewish families before 1948, and therefore the current Palestinian landowners should be evicted and their property transferred to Israeli Jews.
Palestinians say Israel’s resettlement laws are unfair because they have no legal way to reschedule property damaged by Jewish families after the state of Israel became part of the state in the late 1940s.
The Sheikh Jarrah situation has caught the world’s attention, and the United States raised concerns over the weekend.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, We are also deeply concerned about the possible eviction of Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah and Sylvan areas, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations.
As we have stated on numerous occasions, it is imperative to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us further from the world. These include evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activities, house demolitions and terrorist attacks.
In a statement on Saturday, Israeli Foreign Minister Sheikh Zararah called the situation a real estate dispute.
Unfortunately, the PA and Palestinian terrorist groups present the real estate dispute between private parties as a nationalist reason to fuel violence in Jerusalem,” the ministry said.
According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Palestinian leaders and institutions, including the Palestinian National Council, characterized the eviction of Palestinian residents from their homes as “ethnic cleansing” aimed at “Judaizing the holy city.”
The majority of the international community considers East Jerusalem to be an occupied territory, and the Palestinians see it as the capital of the future state. Israel wants to keep the city as part of any of its sovereign territories and rejects the idea of occupying any part of it.