Palestinian worshipers clashed with Israeli police on Friday night in the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, an important holy site for Muslims and Jews.
The night of riots is the latest in a series of deadly clashes in recent weeks that has coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 175 people were injured in clashes with police there and elsewhere in Jerusalem. Most were wounded in the face and eyes by rubber-coated bullets and shrapnel from stun grenades, according to the humanitarian organization.
Israel said six policemen were injured.
Early Friday, Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians and wounded a third after the men opened fire on a base belonging to the paramilitary force of the Israel Border Police in the occupied West Bank.
Tensions fueled by evictions
Tensions have soared in recent weeks in East Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.
At the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israel blocked a popular gathering place where Palestinians traditionally socialize at the end of their one-day fast. The move sparked two weeks of fighting before Israel lifted restrictions.
But in recent days, clashes have resumed due to Israel’s threat of eviction of dozens of Palestinians in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, who have been embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with Israeli settlers who They try to acquire property in the neighborhood.
America ‘deeply concerned’
The United States said it was “deeply concerned” by the rise in tensions and called on all parties to work to reduce them. He also expressed concern about the threats of eviction.
“It is essential to avoid unilateral measures that exacerbate tensions or take us further away from peace. And that would include evictions, settlement activities and house demolitions,” US State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters in Washington.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque complex is the third holiest site in Islam. The site is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount and revere it as the place where the Biblical Temples were located. It has long been a flash point for Israeli-Palestinian violence and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
Israeli police were deployed in large numbers as Muslim worshipers held evening prayers at the scene. It was unclear what sparked the violence, but videos circulating online showed worshipers throwing chairs, shoes and stones at police, who fired stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets to disperse them. Smaller clashes broke out in other parts of Jerusalem.
Israeli police said protesters threw stones, fireworks and other objects at them, wounding six officers who required medical treatment. “We will respond with a heavy hand to all violent riots, riots and attacks against our forces,” he said in a statement.
Previously, some 70,000 worshipers had attended the last Friday prayers of Ramadan in Al-Aqsa, said the Islamic foundation that oversees the site. Thousands later protested, waving the green flags of the Islamic militant group Hamas and chanting pro-Hamas slogans.
Neighboring Jordan, which serves as the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, had previously warned Israel against new “provocative” measures, while Iran, Israel’s arch enemy, encouraged violence.
More violence is likely in the coming days
Israelis and Palestinians are preparing for more violence in the coming days. Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny”, the holiest of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The faithful will gather for intense evening prayers in the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. Sunday night is also the beginning of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of East Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city.
On Monday, an Israeli court is expected to render a verdict on the evictions.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism