- BBC World News
Jerusalem has been the scene of weeks of unrest, in a new escalation of violence between Palestinians and Israeli security forces that leaves more than 300 injured.
The last clashes took place this Monday outside the Al Aqsa Mosque, in the old city of Jerusalem. Palestinians threw stones at Israeli riot police, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas
The Palestine Red Crescent said on Monday that more than 305 Palestinians were injured so far and that at least 228 have been taken to hospital for treatment. Seven of them are in critical condition.
The Israeli police force said 21 officers were injured, three of whom required hospital treatment.
These are the worst riots of its kind in Jerusalem since 2017, fueled in large part by a long-standing attempt by Jewish settlers to seize homes of Palestinian families in Israel-annexed East Jerusalem.
Here are 3 keys to understanding the growing tension in Jerusalem.
1. Jerusalem Day
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces developed over the weekend worsened on Monday around the Al Aqsa mosque. The mosque is situated on an esplanade known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Israel’s police force said thousands of Palestinians barricaded themselves at the scene last night with rocks and Molotov cocktails in anticipation of a clash during a Jewish march planned for Monday to mark the Jerusalem day.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the policing.
“This is a battle between tolerance and intolerance, between lawless violence and order,” he said. “The elements that want to expropriate our rights periodically force us to stand firm, as the Israeli police officers are doing.”
For his part, the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the Israeli actions.
“The brutal assault by the Israeli occupation forces on the faithful in the holy Al Aqsa mosque and its esplanade is a new challenge for the international community,” said its spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
The call Flag March commemorates Israel’s capture of eastern Jerusalem in 1967, when, during the Six Day War, it took effective control of the entire city.
The Old City is located in East Jerusalem, home to some of the holiest religious sites in the world: the Dome of the Rock and the Muslims’ own Al Aqsa Mosque, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall of the Jewish religion and the Holy Sepulcher of the Christian religion.
And it is considered the holiest city for Judaism and Christianity, and it is the third holiest city in Islam.
The fate of East Jerusalem is in the heart of the israeli palestinian conflict, and both parties claim their right to it. Israel regards the entire city as its capital, although it is not recognized as such by most of the international community, and the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a future independent state.
Typically during the Flag March, hundreds of young Israelis wave flags and make their way through Muslim areas, singing patriotic songs.
Many Palestinians consider it a provocation.
Earlier, the Israeli police decided to ban Jews from visiting the compound during the Jerusalem Day commemorations.
2. Possible eviction of Palestinian families
Much of the latest wave of violence stems from a long-standing legal effort by Jewish settler groups to evict several Palestinian families from their homes in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem.
A lower court ruling this year supporting the settlers’ claim sparked the ire of the Palestinians.
Israel’s Supreme Court was due to hold a hearing on the case on Monday, but the session was postponed due to unrest.
3. Tensions during Ramadan
This new wave of violence takes place in the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Tensions have escalated since the beginning of the holiday, in mid-April, with a series of events that have sparked riots.
As Ramadan began, nightly clashes broke out between the police and Palestinians protesting against the security barriers outside the Damascus gate, in the old city of Jerusalem, who had prevented them from meeting there overnight.
But the clashes have not been limited to Jerusalem and clashes were also recorded in the city of Haifa, in northern Israel, and near the city of Ramallah, in the West Bank.
The negotiators of the Quartet for the Middle East – the United States, the European Union, Russia and the UN – have expressed their deep concern about the violence, urging all parties to show restraint.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.