Palestinians injured in Jerusalem violence as Israel celebrates anniversary of capture of city

Israeli police have wounded hundreds of Palestinians since Friday

There was more violence in Jerusalem on Sunday night, on the eve of Israel celebrating the anniversary of its takeover of the contested city.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been wounded in the latest series of clashes.

In an bid to ease tension, Israel’s Supreme Court postponed a Monday hearing on eviction orders against Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, which has been a focal point of rallies.

But fears remain that a Monday march of flag-bearing Israelis through the Old City, an annual event that marks Israeli forces capturing East Jerusalem, could increase the violence.

“For 54 years, Jerusalem has been united under the rule of the democratic state of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, accusing “agitators” of being behind the violence.

“We will uphold law and order vigorously and responsibly. We will continue to guard freedom of worship for all faiths but we will not allow violent disturbances."

Violence only begets violence. Enough with the clashes.

Pope Francis

In the worst night of violence in Jerusalem for years, on Friday police clashed with worshippers at Al Aqsa Mosque.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society treated more than 200 people injured around East Jerusalem that night, while the Israeli police said 17 officers were hurt.

Scenes of rubber bullets being fired and stun grenades exploding at Islam’s third-holiest site sparked international condemnation.

“I am following with particular concern the events which are happening in Jerusalem,” Pope Francis said on Sunday.

“Violence only begets violence. Enough with the clashes."

While prayers to mark the holy night of Laylat Al Qadr on Saturday passed peacefully at Al Aqsa Mosque, further clashes with police at the gates to the compound were reported on Sunday morning.

At the edge of the Old City, meanwhile, Damascus Gate has been the site of battles between young Palestinians and Israeli police.

The past few nights have seen police on horseback cantering towards Palestinians and throwing stun grenades into the gate’s plaza, close to food stalls.

Security troops have also used lorries to douse the area in a foul-smelling liquid, leaving shopkeepers to clean up afterwards.

On Sunday, Palestinian youth responded by throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks, and lighting fires in the street.

Similar scenes unfolded in nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, where dozens of Palestinians are under the threat of eviction.

Protests in solidarity with Jerusalem’s Palestinian community were also held in the northern Israeli cities of Nazareth and Haifa.

Police regarded the latter as an illegal demonstration and said 15 people were arrested for throwing stones and assaulting officers.

In East Jerusalem, hundreds of people have been injured over the past three nights.

Palestinian medics said they treated 14 people hurt on Sunday around Damascus Gate and Sheikh Jarrah.

Crowds have rallied in Sheikh Jarrah in recent weeks, calling for the eviction orders to be scrapped.

The Palestinian families are fighting to keep homes built for them by Jordan after they became refugees when Israel gained statehood in 1948.

They are up against legislation enacted after Israel seized East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1948, which permits landowners from decades earlier to reclaim their property.

Palestinians have no legal avenue to recover homes they lost in what became Israel.

While the judiciary’s decision to postpone a supreme court ruling allows the families to stay for now, Israeli NGO Peace Now says in similar cases Palestinians have never won the right to keep their homes.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry considers the latest case to be “a real estate dispute between private parties”.

With no sign of the unrest in East Jerusalem abating, the UN Security Council is set to discuss the situation on Monday.

Jordan, which serves as custodian of Al Aqsa Mosque compound, described the actions of the Israeli security forces as “barbaric” and on Sunday summoned the country’s top diplomat in Amman.

The UAE, one of four Arab nations to normalise ties with Israel last year, pressed Israeli authorities to “take responsibility for de-escalation, to end all attacks and practices that lead to continued tension".

The events in Jerusalem have also raised the ire of Gaza rulers Hamas, whose senior leader Ismail Haniyeh warned Mr Netanyahu not to “play with fire”.

Four rockets were launched from Gaza on Sunday night, according to the Israeli military, hours after the army said it struck a Hamas military post in response to another rocket launch.

There were also reports of fires in southern Israel which were started by flaming devices flown over the Gaza fence with balloons.

The Israeli army has also sent reinforcements to the occupied West Bank after a spate of deadly incidents there.

This month a Palestinian boy, 16, two alleged Palestinian gunmen and an Israeli man, 19, have been killed.

Updated: May 10, 2021 08:45 AM

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