EU urges authorities to 'de-escalate' Jerusalem tensions

More than 200 injured when Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at Al Aqsa Mosque compound

Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in Jerusalem. AFP
Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in Jerusalem. AFP

The EU is calling on the authorities to "urgently de-escalate tensions" in Jerusalem after more than 200 people were injured.

Violent clashes took place on Friday between Israeli police and Palestinians at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque compound.

On Saturday, the EU issued a statement calling for the authorities to "quickly calm" tensions.

"Violence and incitement are unacceptable and the perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable," a spokesman said.

"The European Union calls on the authorities to act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions in Jerusalem."

An injured Israeli policeman is helped during clashes with Palestinian protesters in Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem. AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND
An injured Israeli policeman is helped during clashes with Palestinian protesters in Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem. AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND

The clashes on Friday came after a week of violence in the city and the occupied West Bank. Israeli police said officers fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to restore order because of the "rioting of thousands of worshippers" after the evening prayers.

The EU said "acts of incitement" around the site, which is also sacred to Jews, "must be avoided and the status quo has to be respected".

Tensions were inflamed at the beginning of Ramadan after Israel blocked off access to a popular gathering spot near the Al Aqsa compound where Palestinians traditionally socialise at the end of their day-long fast during the holy month.

There were two weeks of protests before the restriction was lifted, but anger grew over the impending eviction of several families from East Jerusalem's predominantly Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to make way for Israeli settlers

"Political, religious and community leaders on all sides should show restraint and responsibility and make every effort to calm down this volatile situation," the EU said.

The EU statement condemned the evictions as "illegal" and blamed them for increasing tensions.

"The situation with regard to the evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and other areas of East Jerusalem is also of serious concern," it said.

"Such actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and only serve to fuel tensions on the ground."

Brussels warned that the planned 540 units in the settlement of Har Homa would cut off East Jerusalem from Bethlehem and undermine the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Updated: May 8, 2021 09:19 PM

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