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Jerusalem clashes: More than 150 Palestinians wounded as Israeli police enter Temple Mount

The Independent logo The Independent 15/04/2022 Sravasti Dasgupta
Israeli security forces gather after Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police clashed at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque - AFP via Getty © AFP via Getty Images

Israeli security forces gather after Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police clashed at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque

- AFP via Getty

Clashes broke out on Friday morning after Israeli police entered the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem, with medics saying at least 152 Palestinians have been wounded.

Police entered the compound in large numbers shortly before dawn, said the administrators of the site – also known as Al-Aqsa – as thousands of worshippers gathered at the mosque for early morning prayers two weeks into the holy month of Ramadan.

In a statement, police said that around two hours earlier, dozens of young people began to march in the area, carrying flags of both Hamas as well as Palestine.

They also threw stones and fireworks and began piling up rocks and other objects to prepare for further clashes, the authorities said.

“Police were forced to enter the grounds to disperse the crowd and remove the stones and rocks, in order to prevent further violence,” the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement.

Police said that the group threw stones during morning prayers, but that they only went in to disperse the group after prayers ended. The group then pelted stones at the Western Wall, which is located below the Temple Mount compound, prompting officers to enter the site, according to police.

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Videos of the clashes being shared online appeared to show worshippers barricading themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque itself amid what appeared to be clouds of tear gas. Other footage showed Palestinians hurling rocks and police firing tear gas and stun grenades.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said it evacuated 152 wounded people to hospitals. The Islamic endowment which manages the site said one of its guards was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

Hours after the violence, the police said that the violence had been ended and “hundreds” had been arrested.

“We call on the worshipers to maintain order and observe the prayers in an orderly manner. The Israel Police will not allow rioters to disrupt the prayers and disrupt public order,” they said in a statement.

Prime minister Naftali Bennett held a meeting with police commissioner Kobi Shabtai and public security minister Omer Bar-Lev at a Border Police base in Jerusalem.


Video: Palestinians clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site (NBC News)

Palestinians clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site
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Later in a statement on Twitter he said: “[We are] working to provide security for Israeli citizens.”

The incident also drew condemnation from Palestinian National Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.

“The storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the entry of the occupation forces… is a dangerous development and sacrilege, and it is tantamount to declaring war on our Palestinian people,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the president’s spokesperson.

The incident on Friday is the latest in a growing wave of violence that has erupted during the holy month of Ramadan, which coincides this year with major Jewish and Christian holidays.

Last year protests and clashes in Jerusalem during Ramadan boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza.

In recent weeks tensions have been simmering after a series of attacks by Arab assailants killed 14 people inside Israel, prompting a wave of arrests and military operations in West Bank.

On Monday, Israeli forces said they had shot and killed a Palestinian man near the city of Bethlehem in the West Bank, reported the Associated Press.

Three Palestinians have been killed between Sunday and Monday which includes an unarmed woman who was shot and killed at a military checkpoint near Bethlehem.

Security has been heightened both in Israel as well as in the West Bank.

On Thursday Hamas called for an escalation against Israel and urged “hundreds of thousands” to attend Friday prayers in Jerusalem.

“We are declaring a general mobilisation in all places where our people are located. We are calling on the masses to come out in the hundreds of thousands to protect our nation and our mosque,” it said.

In a statement on Friday Hamas condemned the violence and said that Israel would have to bear the consequences.

“Our people in Jerusalem are not alone in the battle for Al-Aqsa. The whole Palestinian people and its noble resistance and its vital power are with them,” said Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum.

Israel’s police said that security forces were on high alert and security had been beefed up at train stations, bus stops and hotels.

The Palestinian authorities said that they are cooperating with Israel to prevent a repeat of last year’s violence.

“If there is an escalation tomorrow and there are casualties, we may get to Operation Guardian of the Walls round two,” a senior security official was quoted as saying to Channel 12.

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