More than 220 people were injured during night-time clashes at a holy site in Jerusalem Friday over the potential eviction of Palestinians from land claimed by Jewish settlers.
Hundreds of Israeli cops in riot gear fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at thousands of Palestinians, some of whom were throwing rocks and firecrackers.
At least 205 Palestinians and 17 Israeli officers were hurt in the clashes at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The latest violence comes as nightly clashes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah persist during the holy month of Ramadan. Many Palestinian families in the neighborhood are facing displacement.
The US called for calm and restraint Friday, as the European Union and Jordan voiced concern about the potential evictions, which will be addressed up by Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights demanded a halt to the evictions, which “if ordered and implemented, would violate Israel’s obligations under international law,” a spokesperson said.
Earlier Friday, tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered around the mosque to pray, before clashes broke out at the mosque and near Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
Israeli police used water cannons to scatter hundreds of protesters near the homes that are part of the controversial legal dispute.
“If we don’t stand with this group of people here, (evictions) will (come) to my house, her house, his house and to every Palestinian who lives here,” said 23-year-old protester Bashar Mahmoud.
Islamic officials asked for calm from both sides through loudspeakers at the mosque.
“Police must immediately stop firing stun grenades at worshippers, and the youth must calm down and be quiet!,” they pleaded.
“We will respond with a heavy hand to any violent disturbance, rioting or harm to our officers, and will work to find those responsible and bring them to justice,” an Israeli police spokeswoman said.
About half of the injured protestors were hospitalized, with at least five of them suffering serious injuries, according to humanitarian workers. Half of the injured police also required medical treatment, law enforcement officials said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the violence and asked the UN Security Council to hold an urgent session to address the tension.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, two Palestinian gunmen were killed and a third was critically injured after they attacked an Israeli police base. Israel is now beefing up its military presence in the occupied region.
With Post wires