At least 200 Palestinians injured after clashes with police at East Jerusalem mosque

·2 min read
 Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem - AFP/AFP
Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem - AFP/AFP

At least 200 Palestinians and 17 Israeli police officers were wounded on Friday night during fierce clashes at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, as tensions rose in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

It was not immediately clear what triggered the wave of violence. Video footage showed some worshippers throwing bottles, chairs and shoes at Israeli police, who deployed stun grenades and fired rubber bullets. 

According to some reports, a number of worshippers were waving the green flag of the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, and were chanting pro-Hamas slogans. 

Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest site in Islam, but the site is also revered by Jews who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

According to the Red Crescent, the Palestinian emergency services, more than 80 of the wounded Palestinians have been hospitalised with face and eye injuries. 

The Israeli police force said 17 of their officers had been wounded, one of them moderately, and that half of them were in hospital.

In a statement, police said they used “riot dispersal means following violent disturbances on the Temple Mount, during which hundreds of suspects began throwing stone, bottles and objects at police officers.”

The clashes died down shortly after midnight, but both sides are braced for more potential violence over the weekend. 

Israeli security forces arrest a man during a demonstration against the planned eviction process for the Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood - Avalon/Avalon
Israeli security forces arrest a man during a demonstration against the planned eviction process for the Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood - Avalon/Avalon

Earlier on Friday, Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinians and injured a third after they opened fire on an Israeli border force base in the West Bank.

The tensions at al-Aqsa are partly being fuelled by Israeli proposals to evict dozens of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for groups of settlers. 

Israel denies it is forcibly displacing Palestinians from the area, and in a tweet on Friday sought to play down the issue as a “real estate dispute.”  

An Israeli court is due to issue a verdict on the long-running legal dispute on Monday. 

Overnight, the United States said it was deeply concerned by the violence at the al-Aqsa compound and urged both sides to show restraint. 

"It is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace," said the US state department in a statement.

"This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism."

Israel and the Palestinians are braced for more tensions on Sunday night as Muslims gather for prayers on "Laylat al-Qadr,” the holiest night of Ramadan. 

There may also be further violence on Jerusalem Day the following Monday, a national holiday where Israelis celebrate the annexation of East Jerusalem.

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