Fresh violence in Jerusalem sees almost 300 injured as tensions high ahead of nationalist march

Fresh violence in Jerusalem sees almost 300 injured as tensions high ahead of nationalist march
More than 200 people were hospitalised in the latest violence as the city remains on a knife edge, reports Bel Trew in Israel

At least 270 people have been injured in further unrest between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The fresh violence comes amid major fears trouble could escalate Monday, which is also ‘Jerusalem Day’, an annual celebration marking Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem and the walled Old City during the 1967 Middle East war. Many Palestinians regard it as a provocation.

It is often a flashpoint event. But this year comes amid weeks of tension between Palestinians and the Israeli authorities around Haram ash-Sharif or Temple Mount, the volcanic core of the conflict, that has seen world leaders and the United Nations appeal for calm.

The violence also comes against a backdrop of an expected imminent Israeli eviction order of Palestinian families in a nearby Jerusalem neighbourhood. An Israeli court was supposed to rule on this on Monday, but the hearing was postponed due to the mounting violence.

The United Nations has said any eviction could amount to war crime.

But even before then the city has been overrun by trouble that has seen Israeli security forces repeatedly storm Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third most holy site sparking the fury of Israel’s Arab allies as well as Palestinians throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at police causing the authorities to beef up security.

On Monday mobile phone images shared online showed Israeli forces apparently firing stun grenades and tear gas again inside the al-Aqsa compound as well as Palestinians throwing rocks and chairs at security forces.

A Palestinian argues with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem’s Old City

Police said protesters hurled stones at officers and onto an adjoining roadway near the Western Wall, where thousands of Israeli Jews had gathered to pray.

In one particularly graphic video, Palestinian youth are seen hurling rocks at an Israeli car and trying to rip open the car doors, causing the driver to lose control of his vehicle, crash into a small wall knocking over a young man.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that at least 270 Palestinian were hurt in in the violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, including 205 who were hospitalised.

In a statement, Israeli police alleged extremists were behind the violence and said it would not allow them “to harm the safety and security of the public”.

An Israeli policeman holds his weapon as he stands in front of an injured Israeli driver moments after witnesses said his car crashed into a Palestinian on a pavement during stone-throwing clashes near Lion’s Gate just outside Jerusalem’s Old City

The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram ash-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary is considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.

The compound is the epicentre of the conflict and has been the trigger for rounds of Israel-Palestinian violence in the past.

Earlier, police barred Jews from visiting the Al-Aqsa compound on Monday, which Israelis mark as with a flag-waving parade through the Old City and its Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 war.

It later de jure annexed East Jerusalem, home to the city’s most sensitive holy sites, and considers the entire city its capital.

A member of Israeli police runs after a cameraman during clashes with Palestinians at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque

The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future state, with East Jerusalem as their capital.

World leaders and bodies alarmed by the surge in violence have urged calm.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, expressed his “deep concern” over the violence and urged Israeli authorities to exercise “maximum restraint”.

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