International

More than 300 Palestinians hurt in Jerusalem holy site clash

Palestinian run during clashes with Israeli police at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, on May 10.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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.

In an apparent attempt to avoid further confrontation, Israeli authorities changed the planned route of a march by ultranationalist Jews through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The marchers were ordered to avoid the area and sent on a different route circumventing the Muslim Quarter on their way to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

Watch | Israel-Palestine conflict: What is happening in Jerusalem?

But tensions remained high after Monday morning's violence.

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 centre of their conflict. The clashes have come during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan, already a time of heightened religious sensitivities.

Eviction plan

Most recently, the tensions have been fuelled by an eviction plan in an Arab neighbourhood 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 is Islam’s third-holiest site and considered Judaism’s holiest.

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 pray.

Growing criticism

After several days of Jerusalem confrontations, Israel has come under growing international criticism for its heavy-handed actions at the site, particularly during Ramzan.

The UN Security Council scheduled closed consultations on the situation on Monday.

Late Sunday, the U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat. A White House statement said that Mr. Sullivan called on Israel to “pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against the criticism on Monday, describing Israel’s actions in Jerusalem as a law-and-order issue. Mr. 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 police and our security forces are doing now.”


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 6:43:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/israeli-police-palestinians-clash-at-jerusalem-holy-site/article34525296.ece

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