Israeli police and Palestinians once again clash in Jerusalem since the holy month of Ramadan began. Palestinian militants escalated by launching dozens of rockets at Israel. Immediately, Israeli responded with airstrikes against key targets of the Hamas regime. Violence in Jerusalem has been intensifying.
The clashes between Israeli police and the Palestinians are a nightly occurrence. Yet, they are growing in intensity. They center in and around East Jerusalem, in the Old City. The area has some of the most important religious sites for Muslims, Jews, and Christians.
The Al Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s most revered sites, and the Temple Mount are located in the Old City. The Jewish people consider the Temple Mount to be their holiest of religious sites. It is where the ancient Jewish temples stood.
The Old City has been a hotspot since the days of the Roman Empire and the Crusades.
On Thursday, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police resulted in over 100 arrests and several injuries. Reuters reported that fresh violence in the Old City resulted in several more arrests on Friday night, as young Arab youths threw rocks at police, Israeli government buildings, and Jewish homes. Eight Palestinians and four police officers were injured as police fired water cannons and tear gas grenades.
The situation was further inflamed when the far-right Jewish group Lehava, chanting “Arabs get out!” tried to approach the Damascus Gate. This is the gate through which Palestinians enter to approach the Al Aqsa mosque. Lehava was aligned with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane.
The situation risked getting out of hand. Nevertheless, Israeli police pushed the group back a few hundred yards from the Damascus Gate using water cannons, mounted horsemen, and flash-bang grenades. Police arrested 44 protesters and 20 police officers were injured in the violence.
Hamas Calls for Violence in Jerusalem
In the West Bank, several hundred Palestinians attacked Israeli army checkpoints before being dispersed. Palestine’s ruling Hamas regime called for fresh violence in Jerusalem. In response, on Friday night, militants then launched 36 rockets at targets in Israel. Some fell in open areas. Israeli Iron Dome air defense systems intercepted and destroyed six of the missiles.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) responded with strikes against Hamas’s rocket launchers and underground facilities.
Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, condemned the violence and urged all sides to calm the situation down.
“The provocative acts across Jerusalem must cease. The indiscriminate launching of rockets towards Israeli population centers violates international law and must stop immediately.”
“I condemn all such acts of violence and I reiterate my call upon all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation, particularly during the Holy month of Ramadan and this politically charged time for all,” Wennersland said.
“The UN is working with all concerned parties to de-escalate the situation,” he added.
Similarly, the U.S. Embassy issued a statement urging calm. “We hope all responsible voices will promote an end to incitement, a return to calm, and respect for the safety and dignity of everyone in Jerusalem,” the embassy said.