More than 300 people were wounded yesterday in renewed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in Jerusalem, Palestinian medics said, as an Israeli celebration of its 1967 takeover of the holy city threatened to further inflame tensions.
Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli officers in riot gear who fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas on the esplanade of the revered al-Aqsa mosque, a correspondent at the scene said, following a night of sporadic clashes.
Loud booms and angry screams echoed from the ancient stone walls of the compound, revered by both Jews and Muslims, where tear gas filled the air and the ground was littered with rocks, stun grenade fragments and other debris.
The violence was the latest in days of the worst such disturbances in Jerusalem since 2017, fueled by a long-running bid by Jewish settlers to take over nearby Palestinian homes in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
Despite mounting international condemnation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he supported the police force’s “just struggle” amid the Jerusalem clashes.
“We insist on guaranteeing the [religious] rights of all, and this from time to time requires the stability and steadfastness that the Israeli police and our security forces are currently displaying,” Netanyahu said.
Police said Jewish “prayers continue as usual” at the Wailing Wall, which adjoins the esplanade, adding that “we will not let extremists threaten the safety of the public.”
The UN Security Council was to meet at Tunisia’s request later yesterday on the unrest that has escalated since the final Friday prayers of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan last week.
A key court hearing scheduled for yesterday on Sheikh Jarrah, the flashpoint east Jerusalem neighborhood at the center of the property dispute, was postponed.
There were fears of further violence ahead of a planned march by Israelis to commemorate the takeover of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israeli police had, as of Sunday, approved the march, which was rescheduled to start at about 5pm yesterday.
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