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Hundreds Hurt in Clashes at Aqsa Mosque as Tension Rises in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — Scores of Palestinians had been injured on Monday after Israeli police entered the Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a website sacred to each Muslims and Jews, following every week of rising stress in the town. Police fired rubber-tipped bullets and stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinians who had stockpiled stones at the location in expectation of a standoff with Jewish far-right teams.

By midmorning, greater than 50 folks had been transferred to the hospital, in accordance with a consultant of the Palestinian Red Crescent. One particular person was hit in the pinnacle by a bullet and was in a essential situation, the medical support group mentioned. At least 9 cops had been injured, in accordance with the police.

Tensions had been anticipated to rise additional as the day progressed, with 1000’s of far-right Israelis scheduled to march provocatively by means of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City on Monday afternoon to mark the seize of East Jerusalem through the Arab-Israeli warfare in 1967, an anniversary identified in Israel as Jerusalem Day. Israel subsequently annexed that a part of the town, a transfer that a lot of the world has not acknowledged. Palestinians declare East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Videos posted on Twitter confirmed chaos each inside and outside the mosque, the place some worshipers might be seen sheltering from explosions whereas others threw stones and set off fireworks. In another clip, cops had been seen placing a person being detained in a part of the mosque compound. By early afternoon, the police had retreated from the location.

Another video launched by the police confirmed younger males throwing stones from the perimeter of the mosque compound onto the land beneath. A separate clip, taken by a surveillance digital camera, appeared to indicate a Jewish man swerving right into a passer-by after stones hit his automotive and Palestinians pulled open the automotive doorways. The Hadassah Medical Center reported {that a} 7-month-old lady was additionally handled after being frivolously injured in the pinnacle by a rock.

Witnesses at the mosque reacted with shock at the Israeli police techniques at one of many world’s holiest websites. “Why have they been attacking the Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan?” requested Khaled Zabarqa, 48, a lawyer who mentioned he had been praying at the mosque compound earlier than escaping after the primary pictures had been fired.

“The Aqsa Mosque is a sacred place for Muslims,” Mr. Zabarqa added. “Israel is starting a religious war.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel praised the police for “taking a strong stand.”

“A struggle is now being waged for the heart of Jerusalem,” he mentioned. “It is not a new struggle. It is the struggle between intolerance and tolerance, between lawless violence and law and order.”

Jerusalem Day is at all times fraught. But the environment was particularly febrile on Monday as a result of the confrontations adopted weeks of escalating tensions in the town, the place restrictions on Palestinian entry to the Old City through the holy month of Ramadan, a far-right march by means of the town middle in April, and road assaults by each Jews and Arabs have all contributed to a feverish environment.

In current days, strain rose additional as protest protests grew over the looming expulsion of a number of Palestinian households from their houses in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. For Palestinians and their advocates, the case has grow to be a stand-in for the broader marketing campaign to drive out Palestinians from elements of East Jerusalem and for his or her previous displacement in the occupied territories and inside Israel.

Tensions escalated once more Friday evening, as the police fired rubber-tipped bullets and stun grenades and Palestinians threw stones following prayers at the Aqsa compound. Video confirmed some grenades touchdown contained in the mosque.

Militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel in a single day Sunday, after sending incendiary balloons into Israeli farmland for the previous a number of days. Israel has returned fireplace, barred fishermen from the territory from accessing the ocean and shut a key crossing between Gaza and Israel — however prevented a serious escalation.

The tensions had been compounded when a Palestinian killed an Israeli in a drive-by capturing in the occupied West Bank final week, setting off a manhunt by the Israeli Army in the West Bank and raids on Palestinian houses. Israeli troopers later shot lifeless a Palestinian teenager in a separate incident.

A court docket choice on the households’ evictions in East Jerusalem, scheduled for Monday, was postponed on Sunday, in half to diffuse these rising tensions. The Israeli police additionally made a last-minute choice Monday morning to dam Jews from accessing the Aqsa compound, identified to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

But clashes broke out anyway, and had been anticipated to escalate all through the day.

The violence comes in opposition to a backdrop of political instability in each Israel and the occupied territories. The Palestinian Authority just lately canceled what would have been the primary Palestinian elections in 15 years.

And after a fourth Israeli election in simply two years, Israeli opposition events are locked in negotiations to kind a coalition authorities and change Benjamin Netanyahu, the nation’s prime minister. Mr. Netanyahu is serving in a caretaker capability as he stands trial on corruption prices.

Myra Noveck contributed reporting from Jerusalem and Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City.