Palestinians clash with Israeli police at major holy site in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — Palestinians clashed with Israeli police on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Friday as hundreds gathered for prayers in the course of the holy month of Ramadan. Medics mentioned greater than 150 Palestinians had been wounded in probably the most critical violence on the web site in almost a 12 months.

The holy web site, which is sacred to Jews and Muslims, has usually been the epicenter of Israeli-Palestinian unrest, and tensions had been already heightened amid a latest wave of violence. Clashes on the web site final 12 months helped spark an 11-day battle with Hamas militants within the Gaza Strip.

The clashes come at a very delicate time. Ramadan this 12 months coincides with Passover, a serious weeklong Jewish vacation starting Friday at sunset, and Christian holy week, which culminates on Easter Sunday. The vacations are anticipated to carry tens of hundreds of devoted into Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis, house to main websites sacred to all three religions.

Hours after the clashes started, the police mentioned they’d put an finish to the violence and arrested “hundreds” of suspects. The mosque was re-opened, and a few 60,000 individuals attended the primary Friday prayers noon, in accordance with the Islamic endowment that administers the positioning.

After prayers, hundreds of Palestinians marched across the esplanade, chanting “with our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you, Al-Aqsa,” along with slogans in help of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that guidelines Gaza. Some carried Palestinian and Hamas flags.

Israeli authorities mentioned that earlier than the violence broke out they’d held negotiations with Muslim leaders to make sure calm. However the police say Palestinians stockpiled rocks and different objects contained in the compound and hurled stones on the Mughrabi Gate, which ends up in the Western Wall – a serious Jewish holy web site – triggering the violence.

Palestinian witnesses, who spoke on situation of anonymity out of safety issues, mentioned a small group of Palestinians threw rocks at police, who then entered the compound in power, setting off a wider conflagration. Palestinians view any giant deployment of police at Al-Aqsa as a provocation.

Palestinians threw rocks and fireworks, and police fired tear gasoline and stun grenades on the sprawling esplanade surrounding the mosque. A big group of Palestinians barricaded themselves contained in the mosque as they fought Israeli safety forces.

Israeli police later entered the mosque and arrested individuals inside. Israeli safety forces not often enter the constructing, and once they do it’s seen by Palestinians as a serious escalation.

The Palestinian Purple Crescent emergency service mentioned it handled 152 individuals, lots of them wounded by rubber-coated bullets or stun grenades, or crushed with batons. The endowment mentioned one of many guards on the web site was shot within the eye with a rubber bullet.

The Israeli police mentioned three officers had been wounded from “massive stone-throwing,” with two evacuated from the scene for remedy.

Neighboring Jordan, which has custodianship over the holy web site, and the Palestinian Authority issued a joint assertion accusing Israel of “a dangerous and condemnable escalation that threatens to explode the situation.”

Israel’s nationwide safety minister, Omer Barlev, who oversees the police power, mentioned Israel had “no interest” in violence on the holy web site however that police had been compelled to confront “violent elements” who attacked them with stones and metallic bars. He mentioned Israel was dedicated to freedom of worship for Jews and Muslims alike.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, talking at a vacation gathering with safety officers, mentioned authorities “are working to calm things on the Temple Mount and throughout Israel. At the same time, we are prepared for any scenario.”

The mosque is the third holiest web site in Islam. It’s constructed on a hilltop in Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis that’s the most sacred web site for Jews, who check with it because the Temple Mount as a result of it was the positioning of the Jewish temples in antiquity. It has been a serious flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian violence for many years and was the epicenter of the 2000-2005 Palestinian intifada, or rebellion.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, house to Al-Aqsa and different main holy websites, within the 1967 battle and annexed it in a transfer not acknowledged internationally. Palestinians need the jap a part of town to be the capital of a future unbiased state together with the West Financial institution and Gaza, which Israel additionally captured in the course of the battle almost 55 years in the past.

Tensions have soared in latest weeks following a sequence of assaults by Palestinians that killed 14 individuals inside Israel. Israel has carried out a wave of arrests and navy operations throughout the occupied West Financial institution, setting off clashes with Palestinians.

The Palestinian Well being Ministry mentioned a 17-year-old died early Friday from wounds suffered throughout clashes with Israeli forces within the West Financial institution metropolis of Jenin the day earlier than.

At the very least 25 Palestinians have been killed within the latest wave of violence, in accordance with an Related Press depend, lots of whom had carried out assaults or had been concerned within the clashes, but in addition an unarmed girl and a lawyer who seems to have been killed by mistake.

Weeks of protests and clashes in and round Al-Aqsa throughout Ramadan final 12 months finally ignited a fourth Gaza battle between Israel and Hamas. This 12 months, Israel has lifted restrictions and brought different steps to attempt to calm tensions forward of Ramadan, however the assaults and the navy raids have led to one other cycle of unrest.

Hamas condemned what it mentioned had been “brutal attacks” on worshippers at Al-Aqsa, saying Israel would bear “all the consequences.”

Earlier this week, Hamas and different militant teams in Gaza had known as on Palestinians to camp out on the Al-Aqsa mosque over the weekend. Palestinians have lengthy feared that Israel plans to take over the positioning or partition it.

Israeli authorities say they’re dedicated to sustaining the established order, however in recent times giant teams of nationalist and spiritual Jews have often visited the positioning with police escorts.

A radical Jewish group lately known as on individuals to carry animals to the positioning with a view to sacrifice them for Passover, providing money rewards for individuals who succeeded and even tried. Israeli police work to forestall such actions, however the name was extensively circulated by Palestinians on social media, together with requires Muslims to forestall any sacrifices from going down.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, issued an announcement calling on Muslim leaders to behave to cease the violence. It additionally famous that “bringing a sacrifice to the Temple Mount today is in opposition to the decision of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.”


Related Press reporter Wafaa Shurafa in Gaza Metropolis, Gaza Strip contributed to this report.

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