More than 200 people have been hurt in clashes at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound late Friday (May 7) as world leaders urged calm after days of escalating tensions amid the potential eviction of Palestinians from land claimed by Jewish settlers.
Violence erupted on Friday when Israeli police deployed heavily as Muslims were performing evening prayers at Al-Aqsa during the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israeli police said they had used force to “restore order” due to the “rioting of thousands of worshippers” after evening prayers.
An Aqsa official called for calm over the mosque’s loudspeakers. “Police must immediately stop firing stun grenades at worshippers, and the youth must calm down and be quiet!”, Reuters news agency quoted them as saying.
The Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City is Islam’s third-holiest site, but its location is also the holiest site in Judaism, known as the Temple Mount.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he “held [Israel] responsible for the dangerous developments and sinful attacks taking place in the holy city”, and called on the UN Security Council to hold an urgent session on the issue.
According to a statement by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, Israeli law-enforcers have denied access to its emergency medical teams, sent to the area “to support its branch in Jerusalem in providing EMS to injured Palestinians.”
The United States said it was “extremely concerned” by the events and urged both sides to “avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace”.
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 also condemned attacks on civilians. “This development of events is perceived with deep concern in Moscow. We strongly condemn attacks against civilians,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.” We call on all parties to refrain from any steps fraught with the escalation of violence.”
Israel drew criticism from Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, Pakistan, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates.
Iran called on the United Nations to condemn the Israeli police actions.
The international calls for calm and restraint show recognition of the dangers if this escalation continues.
Three days of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Jerusalem continued on Monday (May 10) during Jerusalem Day, when Israel celebrates its capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The Palestinian Red Crescent said more than 270 Palestinians were injured. Police said 12 officers were hurt.
UPDATE 10/05/2021 18:43
Israel has carried out missile strikes in Northern Gaza leaving nine Palestinians dead and several wounded, Gaza’s health ministry said.
Earlier, Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip, said it fired rockets at Israel, setting off sirens in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh and much of the country’s south, in a response to the injury of more than 300 Palestinians following a raid by Israeli police on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The Israeli Knesset cancelled a session that was in progress and evacuated members after red alert rocket-warning sirens sounded in Jerusalem and several explosions were heard.
With reporting by WAFA, AFP, TASS, The Guardian, Al Jazeera