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Monday, June 21, 2021

Fresh clashes ahead of nationalist march rock Jerusalem

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Fresh clashes have broken out between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque site in Jerusalem, ahead of a planned Jewish nationalist march.

Palestinians threw stones at Israeli security forces, who fired stun grenades, according to reports.

Hundreds of Palestinians and more than 20 Israeli police have been injured in clashes over the past three days.

There are fears of more violence on Monday over the annual Jerusalem Day Flag March.

The event marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem – home to the Old City and its holy sites – in 1967, and usually sees young Zionists walk through Muslim areas.

It is regarded by many Palestinians as a deliberate provocation.

The latest violence follows a month of tensions, with the threatened eviction of Palestinian families a focal point.

Israel’s Supreme Court had been due to hold a hearing on Monday in the appeal of more than 70 people against an eviction order in favour of a Jewish settler organisation in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah district, but the session was postponed due to the unrest.

Clashes broke out on at the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, one of Islam’s most revered locations. It is also the holiest site in Judaism, known as the Temple Mount.
Hundreds of Palestinians threw projectiles at security forces, who responded with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets, according to AFP news agency, which reported that dozens of people had been injured.

In a statement, Israeli police said that security forces were “working to eradicate the violence on the Temple Mount, along with increased activity in other areas of the Old City”.

Monday’s clashes followed three nights of violence in the city.

On Sunday, Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah threw stones at Israeli police, while the officers responded by firing stun grenades and water cannon. There were more skirmishes near the Old City’s Damascus Gate.

Palestinian medics said a number of protesters were injured.

Confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis were also reported in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, and near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended police action against Palestinian protesters on Sunday, saying his government “shall not allow any radical element to undermine the calm” in the city.

Neighbouring Jordan, custodian of Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem, has condemned the actions of Israeli security forces.

The Quartet of Middle East negotiators – the US, the EU, Russia and the UN – has also expressed concern over the spiralling violence, urging all sides to show restraint.

The UN Security Council will discuss the issue later on Monday.

Tensions have escalated since the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in mid-April, with a series of events driving the unrest.

As Ramadan began, clashes erupted nightly between police and Palestinians protesting against security barriers outside Damascus Gate, which had prevented them from gathering there during the evening.

Palestinian anger was further exacerbated by a march by ultra-nationalist Jewish extremists, close to the same area, held in protest at a spate of videos posted on social media that showed Palestinians assaulting ultra-Orthodox Jews in the city, and by revenge assaults on Palestinians by Jewish extremists.

The fate of East Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming the right to it. Israel effectively annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, in a move not recognised by the vast majority of the international community, and considers the entire city its capital.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a hoped-for independent state.

-BBC

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