Palestinians Injured in Clash 05/10 06:34
Israeli police firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets clashed
with stone-throwing Palestinians at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site on Monday,
the latest in a series of confrontations that threatened to push the contested
city toward wider conflict.
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli police firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber
bullets clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy
site on Monday, the latest in a series of confrontations that threatened to
push the contested city toward wider conflict.
More than a dozen tear gas canisters and stun grenades landed in the Al-Aqsa
mosque, located in a compound sacred to both Jews and Muslims, said an
Associated Press photographer at the scene. Smoke rose in front of the mosque
and the iconic golden-domed shrine on the site, and rocks littered the
surrounding plaza. Inside one area of the compound, shoes and debris lay
scattered over ornate carpets.
More than 305 Palestinians were hurt, including 228 who went to hospitals
and clinics for treatment, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Seven of
the injured were in serious condition. Police said 21 officers were hurt,
including three who were hospitalized.
Monday's confrontation was the latest after weeks of mounting tensions
between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the Old City of Jerusalem, the
emotional center of their conflict. The clashes have come during the Muslim
holy month of Ramadan, already a time of heightened religious sensitivities.
Most recently, the tensions have been fueled by an eviction plan in an Arab
neighborhood of east Jerusalem where Israeli settlers have waged a lengthy
legal battle to take over properties.
Hundreds of Palestinians and about two dozen police officers have been hurt
over the past few days in clashes at the sacred compound, which is known to
Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The compound,
which, has been the trigger for rounds of Israel-Palestinian violence in the
past, is Islam's third-holiest site and considered Judaism's holiest.
An AP photographer at the scene said that early Monday morning, protesters
had barricaded gates to the walled compound with wooden boards and scrap metal.
Sometime after 7. a.m., clashes erupted, with those inside throwing stones at
police deployed outside. Police entered the compound, firing tear gas,
rubber-coated steel pellets and stun grenades.
At some point, about 400 people, both young protesters and older
worshippers, were inside the carpeted Al-Aqsa Mosque. Police fired tear gas and
stun grenades into the mosque.
Police said protesters hurled stones at officers and onto an adjoining
roadway near the Western Wall, where thousands of Israeli Jews had gathered to
After several days of Jerusalem confrontations, Israel has come under
growing international criticism for its heavy-handed actions at the site,
particularly during Ramadan.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled closed consultations on the situation
Late Sunday, the U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his
Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat. A White House statement said that
Sullivan called on Israel to "pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm" and
expressed the U.S.'s "serious concerns" about the ongoing violence and planned
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against the criticism Monday,
describing Israel's actions in Jerusalem as a law-and-order issue. Netanyahu
said Israel is determined to ensure the rights of worship for all and that this
"requires from time to time stand up and stand strong as Israeli police and our
security forces are doing now."
Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Netanyahu, claimed in a tweet that
"extremist Palestinians planned well in advance to carry out riots" at the holy
site, sharing photos of mounds of stones and wooden barricades inside the
Ayman Odeh, a leading Arab politician in Israel, blamed the violence on
Israel's discriminatory policies toward the Palestinians and said it had
provoked the violence. "Wherever you find occupation, you will find
resistance," he said at a news conference in Sheikh Jarrah, near the homes
whose residents are under threat of eviction.
In other violence, Palestinian protesters hurled rocks at an Israeli vehicle
driving just outside the Old City walls. The driver later told public
broadcaster Kan that his windows were smashed by stones and pepper spray shot
into the car as he drove past the Old City. CCTV footage of the incident
released by the police showed a crowd surrounding the car and pelting it with
rocks, its rear window shattered, when it swerved off the road and into a stone
barrier and a bystander.
Police said two passengers were injured.
The day began with police announcing that Jews would be barred from visiting
the holy site on what Israelis mark as Jerusalem Day, with a flag-waving parade
through the Old City that is widely perceived by Palestinians as a provocative
display in the contested city. The marchers celebrate Israel's capture of east
Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war.
In that conflict, Israel also captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It
later annexed east Jerusalem and considers the entire city its capital. The
Palestinians seek all three areas for a future state, with east Jerusalem as
Police have allowed the Jerusalem Day parade to take place despite growing
concerns that it could further inflame tensions after violence has occurred
almost nightly throughout Ramadan.
It began when Israel blocked off a popular spot where Muslims traditionally
gather each night at the end of their daylong fast. Israel later removed the
restrictions, but clashes quickly resumed amid tensions over the planned
eviction of Palestinians from the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Israel's Supreme Court postponed a key ruling Monday that could have forced
dozens of Palestinians from their homes, citing the "circumstances."
The Israeli crackdown and planned evictions have drawn harsh condemnations
from Israel's Arab allies and expressions of concern from the U.S., European
Union and United Nations.
The tensions in Jerusalem have threatened to reverberate throughout the
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired several barrages of
rockets into Israel, and protesters allied with the ruling Hamas militant group
have launched dozens of incendiary balloons into Israel, setting off fires
across the southern part of the country.
"The occupier plays with fire, and tampering with Jerusalem is very
dangerous," Saleh Arouri, a top Hamas official, told the militant group's
Al-Aqsa TV station.
In response, COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry organ responsible for
crossings with the Gaza Strip, announced Monday that it was closing the Erez
crossing to all but humanitarian and exceptional cases until further notice.