Israeli police say 44 people were arrested and 20 officers injured on a chaotic night in Jerusalem, where security forces separately clashed with Palestinians angry at Ramadan restrictions and with Jewish extremists who held a march. anti-Arab nearby.
JERUSALEM – Israeli police say 44 people were arrested and 20 officers injured on a chaotic night in Jerusalem, where security forces separately clashed with angry Palestinians over Ramadan restrictions and Jewish extremists who held a anti-Arab march nearby.
Tensions have increased in recent days in Jerusalem, which has long been a hotspot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is home to sacred sacred sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Residents prepared for possible further unrest ahead of Muslim Friday prayers as police strengthened security and the US embassy appealed for calm.
Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police every night since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Tensions began when police set up barricades outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City, where Muslims traditionally gather to enjoy the evening after daytime fasting.
Late Thursday, hundreds of Palestinians threw stones and bottles at the police, who fired a water cannon and stun grenades to disperse them. Dozens of Palestinians were injured in the melee.
Meanwhile, a far-right Jewish group known as Lahava led a march of hundreds of protesters shouting “Arabs out!” towards the Damascus Gate. The show of force came in response to videos released on TikTok showing Palestinians slapping religious Jews at random. Other videos made in response to them appear to show Jews attacking Arabs.
Police used metal barricades to stop far-right protesters a few hundred meters from the Damascus Gate. Subsequently, they used water cannons, stun grenades, and mounted police to push them back towards west Jerusalem, mostly Jewish.
Videos circulated online showed small riots and fires in other parts of the city. A video showed what appeared to be a group of Palestinians beating up an ultra-Orthodox Jew near the Damascus Gate. They could be seen punching, kicking and throwing him to the ground before the police chased them away.
The police statement did not specify whether those arrested were Palestinians or Jews and did not refer to specific cases of violence. Police did not immediately respond to a request for more details.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized by most of the international community. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. His fate was one of the most controversial issues in the peace process, which came to a halt more than ten years ago.
The US embassy said it was “deeply concerned” by the violence in recent days. “We hope that all responsible voices will promote an end to incitement, a return to calm and respect for the safety and dignity of all in Jerusalem,” a statement read.
Thousands of Palestinians are expected to attend weekly prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday. The site is the third holiest in Islam and the holiest to Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.
The vast sacred site atop a hill has been the scene of clashes on several occasions over the years and was the epicenter of the Palestinian intifada of 2000, or uprising.
Associated Press reporter Ariel Schalit in Jerusalem contributed.