Jerusalem sees second night of clashes with Israeli security forces

Jerusalem sees a second night of clashes as Israeli security forces block Muslim pilgrims arriving at Al-Aqsa mosque for holiest night of Ramadan – as President Erdogan brands Israel a ‘cruel terrorist’

  • Israeli forces fired a water cannon at Palestinian protesters and blocked busloads of pilgrims in Jerusalem
  • Violence broke out as Muslims were heading to the Al-Asqa mosque on the holiest night of Ramadan
  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel as a ‘cruel terrorist state’ amid the escalation
  • Police defended their actions as security moves, but these were seen as provocations by Muslims 

Jerusalem has seen a second night of violent clashes as Israeli police fired a water cannon at Palestinian protesters and blocked busloads of Muslim pilgrims headed to the Al-Aqsa mosque on the holiest night of Ramadan. 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel as a ‘cruel terrorist state’ amid the escalation of already heightened religious tensions that have unleashed the worst unrest in the holy city in years, as the Palestinian Red Crescent reported 53 people injured on Saturday night.

He said: ‘Israel, the cruel terrorist state, attacks the Muslims in Jerusalem – whose only concern is to protect their homes … and their sacred values – in a savage manner devoid of ethics.’ 

The violence in Jerusalem was ‘an attack on all Muslims’, he said, adding that ‘protecting the honour of Jerusalem is a duty for every Muslim’.

He urged all countries, in particular Muslim countries, to react and called on the United Nations to ‘stop this persecution’.

Police defended their actions as security moves, but these were seen as provocations by Muslims who accuse Israel of threatening their freedom of worship. 

Jerusalem has seen a second night of violent clashes as Israeli police fired a water cannon at Palestinian protesters

People help an injured Palestinian woman during a protest in Damascus gate on Saturday on the second night of violent clashes

Israeli forces blocked busloads of Muslim pilgrims headed to the Al-Aqsa mosque on the holiest night of Ramadan

Police defended their actions as security moves, but these were seen as provocations by Muslims who accuse Israel of threatening their freedom of worship

A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli security forces in Jerusalem’s Old City as clashes continue between police and demonstrators

Palestinian protesters burn tyres amid clashes with Israeli security forces at the Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus city, in the occupied West Bank

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel as a ‘cruel terrorist state’ amid the escalation of already heightened religious tensions

Competing claims in east Jerusalem, home to the city’s most sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites, lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have triggered major rounds of violence in the past. 

Police said they dispersed the protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood where demonstrators had thrown stones at security forces.

Saturday night is ‘Laylat al-Qadr’ or the ‘Night of Destiny,’ the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Islamic authorities estimated 90,000 people were gathered for intense nighttime prayers at Al-Aqsa.

‘The right to demonstrate will be respected but public disturbances will be met with force and zero tolerance. I call on everyone to act responsibly and with restraint,’ Israeli police chief Koby Shabtai said.

Police said they dispersed the protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood where demonstrators had thrown stones at security forces

In Jerusalem, police said they made three arrests for attacks on officers, while Palestinians reported 13 other arrests earlier in the day

Israeli police are deployed during clashes with Palestinians at Damascus Gate on Laylat al-Qadr during the holy month of Ramadan

Palestinian medics said 205 Palestinians were injured in the clashes at Al-Aqsa and other flashpoints around Jerusalem

On the border with the Gaza Strip, troops fired tear gas toward Palestinian protesters, as officials said three incendiary balloons were launched into Israel, causing fires but no injuries.

In Jerusalem, police said they made three arrests for attacks on officers, while Palestinians reported 13 other arrests earlier in the day.

On Friday, riot police stormed Al-Aqsa mosque compound, unleashing rubber bullets and sound grenades after they said Palestinians threw rocks and fireworks at officers.

Police said 18 officers were injured and several hospitalised.

Palestinian medics said 205 Palestinians were injured in the clashes at Al-Aqsa and other flashpoints around Jerusalem.

The violence was the worst in years to rock Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina, located on the site Jews revere as the Temple Mount

A Palestinian protester runs from Israeli security forces outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City

On Saturday, protesters chanted, waved Palestinian flags and threw stones before police moved in

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the police actions.

‘Israel is acting responsibly to ensure respect for law and order in Jerusalem while allowing freedom of worship,’ he said in a meeting of security officials.

The violence was the worst in years to rock Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina, located on the site Jews revere as the Temple Mount. 

Palestinians have held nightly protests in Sheikh Jarrah against an attempt by Israeli settlers to take over Arab homes.

On Saturday, protesters chanted, waved Palestinian flags and threw stones before police moved in.

Dozens of Arab Israeli protesters also gathered across Israel in solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah residents, holding up signs that read ‘the occupation is terrorism’.

Israeli security forces arrest a protester during a demonstration by Palestinians against a possible eviction of local Palestinian families

A member of Israeli security forces tries to detain a Palestinian protester outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City

Police blocked buses filled with Arabs headed for Jerusalem from northern Israel, saying they would not be allowed ‘to participate in violent riots’.

Instead, hundreds marched on highways leading to the city. 

The Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, urged Palestinians to remain at Al-Aqsa until Ramadan ends, warning that ‘the resistance is ready to defend Al-Aqsa at any cost’.

Outside the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, Palestinians set fire to a barricade before police on horseback dispersed the protesters. 

The United States – a staunch Israeli ally whose tone has toughened under US President Joe Biden – said it was ‘extremely concerned’ and urged both sides to ‘avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace’.

‘This includes evictions in east Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions and acts of terrorism,’ the State Department said.

Palestinian devotees pray on Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny) outside the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque

An Israeli policeman holds a weapon during clashes with Palestinians on Laylat al-Qadr

Palestinians gather amid burning tyre fumes and tear gas fired by Israeli security forces during a demonstration by the Israel-Gaza border

The European Union called on the authorities ‘to act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions,’ saying ‘violence and incitement are unacceptable and the perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable’.

Russia voiced ‘deep concern’ and called the expropriation of land and property in the occupied Palestinian territories including east Jerusalem ‘a violation of international law’.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he held the Israeli government responsible for the unrest and voiced ‘full support for our heroes in Al-Aqsa’.

Yair Lapid, an Israeli politician attempting to form a coalition government to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sent encouragement to police officers.

‘The state of Israel will not let violence run loose and definitely will not allow terror groups to threaten it,’ he tweeted. 

Palestinian protesters burn tyres amid clashes with Israeli security forces at the Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus city, in the occupied West Bank

Israeli police officers fire stun grenades towards Palestinian demonstrators during clashes at Damascus Gate just outside Jerusalem’s Old City

The clashes in Al-Aqsa drew sharp rebukes across the Arab and Muslim world.

Jordan condemned Israel’s ‘barbaric attack’ and Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, Pakistan and Qatar were among Muslim countries that blasted Israeli forces for the confrontation.

Israel also drew criticism from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, two countries that signed normalisation accords with the Jewish state last year.

Iran called on the United Nations to condemn the Israeli police actions, arguing that ‘this war crime once again proved to the world the criminal nature of the illegitimate Zionist regime’.

Tensions are expected to remain high in Jerusalem.

Israel’s supreme court is to hold a new hearing in the Sheikh Jarrah case on Monday, when Israelis mark Jerusalem Day to celebrate the ‘liberation’ of the city.

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