For weeks now, Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have clashed on a daily basis in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, home to major religious sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims and the emotional epicenter of the Middle East conflict.
Jerusalem has been the scene of violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs for 100 years and remains one of the most bitterly contested cities on earth. The latest clashes began a month ago with an Israeli move to block some Palestinian gatherings at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, already a time of heightened religious sensitivities. After those restrictions eased, tensions over a plan to evict dozens of Palestinians from an east Jerusalem neighborhood continued to fuel confrontations.
Israelis on May 10 marked Jerusalem Day, a national holiday celebrating the annexation. In past years, thousands of Israelis — mainly religious nationalists — have marched through the Old City, including the densely populated Muslim Quarter, in a display considered provocative by many Palestinians.
Photo: Reuters 照片：路透
CAPITAL OF TWO PEOPLES
Israel views Jerusalem as its “unified, eternal” capital. It had captured east Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians want those territories for their future state, with east Jerusalem serving as their eventual capital. But Israel annexed the eastern part of the city in a move not recognized internationally.
At the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City is the hill known to Jews across the world as Temple Mount — the holiest site in Judaism — and to Muslims internationally as the Noble Sanctuary. It was home to the Jewish temples of antiquity. Two Muslim holy places now stand there, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place in Islam. Christians also revere the city as the place where they believe that Jesus preached, died and was resurrected.
The fate of east Jerusalem has been one of the thorniest issues in the peace process, which ground to a halt more than a decade ago.
(AP and Reuters)
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