Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli

Fighting between Israeli security forces and protesters left hundreds injured in clashes prompted by a dispute about access to parts of the Old City and attempts to evict the members of a Palestinian family from their home.

Videos posted online showed police using flash grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets and Palestinians throwing stones outside the al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Jews at the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

The Red Crescent organization reported 305 injuries, seven of them life-threatening. About 290 were sent to hospital after the fighting at the mosque.

Police said 21 officers had been injured.

The number of those injured could rise and there were reports that some people who had been hurt were still at the site. Some alleged that Israel was preventing medics from reaching the site.

There was a further incident on the edge of the Old City in the morning when an Israeli motorist rammed his car into a Palestinian man after his vehicle was pelted with stones by a group of Palestinians.

Israeli police said the man lost control of the car. The driver was then attacked by a crowd. An Israeli police officer fired into the air, forcing Palestinians to release him.

There were also reports of protests in other cities.

The situation in the West Bank and in the Arab-dominated eastern part of Jerusalem has been tense since the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is set to end later this week. Many Palestinians are angry because Israeli police had cordoned off areas of the Old City to prevent gatherings.

In addition, some Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah are facing eviction from their homes by Israeli authorities, further heightening tensions. A Supreme Court ruling on the evictions expected for Monday was postponed.

Adding to the tension, Israel marks Jerusalem Day on Monday, when the country commemorates its annexation of East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as a potential capital of any independent country and contest Israel’s claim.

In an effort to minimize violence, Israeli authorities have banned parades by Jewish groups through the Old City and to the Temple Mount.

Hussein al-Sheikh, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, criticized the “storming” of the Temple Mount by Israeli police officers and said the Palestinian leadership was keeping all options open for its response.

The situation also prompted multiple calls from around the world for both sides to find some way to restore calm.

The German government called for a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East on Monday after violence in Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We call on both sides to urgently take steps to deescalate the situation,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Israel to exercise “maximum restraint,” according to a spokesperson.

The US government also expressed concern.

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said there was a risk that Israelis would occupy East Jerusalem and push Palestinians out, describing developments in Sheikh Jarrah as “very, very worrying.”

There is no viable alternative at present to a two-state solution, he said on his way into EU foreign ministers talks in Brussels, and Jerusalem is the capital of both Israel and Palestine.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli charge d’affairs in Amman to protest and condemn Israeli violations against worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as the latest attacks and people in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah.

The United Nations Security Council was set to meet in an emergency session on Monday to discuss increasing violence, the Times of Israel reported, citing Israeli diplomats.

The council is to meet behind closed doors after a request from Tunisia, three security council diplomats told the newspaper.

Members of both the Muslim and Jewish faiths attach strong religious significance to the mosque and its surrounding areas, making the potential for clashes there high.

The clashes have grown more intense in recent days. On Friday, about 300 Palestinians and 20 police officers sustained injuries.

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