JERUSALEM—Fresh clashes broke out between Israeli police and Palestinians at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem on Monday, exacerbating tensions ahead of a planned Jewish nationalist march that passes through Muslim areas of the Old City.
At least 180 people were injured as the police fired flash grenades, tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets at Palestinian worshipers at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, according to Palestinian medics and social-media videos. Israeli police said they used riot-control methods after hundreds of Palestinians began throwing stones and shooting fireworks at them near an entrance to the site.
The compound has become a focal point of Palestinian anger over what they see as years of efforts to push them out of Jerusalem and limit their access to land they claim, as well as infringe on their basic rights. The situation has been aggravated by right-wing Jewish Israeli efforts to assert control in East Jerusalem, which Israel claims as part of its undivided capital.
Earlier Monday, Israeli police restricted Jewish visitors to the holy site complex, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, and which has long been a source of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
Palestinians at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Monday, ahead of a Jewish march that passes through Muslim areas of the Old City.
Monday’s violence comes after days of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police amid tensions over a looming court decision on whether to evict Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Israel’s Supreme Court delayed a planned Monday hearing on the evictions, owing in part to the heightened political tensions associated with the decision.
“We insist on ensuring the rights of everyone. This occasionally requires taking a strong stand as the officers of the Israel police, and our security forces, are doing at the moment. We back them in this just struggle,” Prime Minister
Israeli officials fear the violence could spiral further as Israeli Jews prepare to march later on Monday afternoon to mark Jerusalem Day. Right-wing Jewish Israelis typically march through the Old City, including Muslim areas, waving Israeli flags to mark Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem. The event, an Israeli holiday, is intended as a show of Israeli claims to the contested city.
In another move that could inflame tensions, Israel’s Parliament is expected to hold a vote Monday afternoon on legislation that would legalize unauthorized settlements in the West Bank, a measure pushed by Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party as his rivals try to form a government.
Ofir Gendleman, a spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu, said Monday’s clashes were planned ahead of time.
“Extremist Palestinians planned well in advance to carry out riots today on the #TempleMount. What we see now is the result of that,” he said on
“We guarantee the freedom to pray, not the freedom to riot and attack innocent people. The police [are] working to restore calm.”
So far, Israeli police are letting the planned march go ahead, possibly with a limit on the number of people who can participate. Already about 2,000 right-wing Jewish activists have gathered near the Dung Gate ahead of the march. Some local media reports estimate up to 30,000 will attend.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan called Israel’s national security adviser
on Sunday to express Washington’s “serious concern” about clashes at the Al Aqsa mosque during the last days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
According to a U.S. readout of the call, senior American officials have pressed Israeli and Palestinian officials in recent days to take steps to ensure calm, de-escalate tensions and denounce violence.
Mr. Sullivan specifically urged Israel “to pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm during Jerusalem Day commemorations.”
Israel considers all of Jerusalem its sovereign territory and governs all of its inhabitants, but Palestinians want the eastern portion of the city to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Both Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Fatah in the West Bank have called on Palestinians to step up confrontations with Israeli authorities and push back against Israeli activity in Jerusalem.
Overnight and early in the morning, militants in Gaza fired three rockets toward Israel. Israel’s military said one was likely intercepted. Over the past several days militants have also sent flaming balloons from Gaza into Israeli farmland near the border. Israel has closed a main border crossing and Gaza’s fishing zone in response.
In Israel, some officials and analysts see the recent violence as an inflection point in what they describe as a passive approach to dealing with the Palestinians.
a former head of Israeli military intelligence, said the escalating tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem stem from Israel’s failure to decide what its goals are with regards to the Palestinians.
“This failure to decide is effectively a decision in its own right, one that is leading us to a reality in which there is one state that is neither democratic nor Jewish,” Mr. Yadlin said in an opinion piece that appeared on Channel 12’s website on Monday.
Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.