In Jerusalem, a difficult return to calm on the esplanade of the Mosques

Israeli police in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, April 17, 2022.

They maintain the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a fort. Barricaded inside the building, in this third holiest site in Islam, a small group of Palestinians fire firecrackers at regular intervals on Sunday morning, April 17, at the surrounding Israeli police. These projectiles produce small clouds of smoke, colored sparks around the policemen who want to be unperturbed. Some point their guns at the broken windows, waiting for one of the besieged to poke his head out. But they don’t attack.

If the police are deployed in this way on the esplanade of the Mosques, it is to let tourists and faithful Jews pass, visiting what for them is the Temple Mount, after the closure of the Easter weekend. In recent years, these activists have broken the current “status quo”, which allows Jews to visit the Mount, but not to pray there. Escorted and protected by the police, they pray every day in normal times and study for a long time near the Golden Gate. It is a challenge to leading Jewish religious authorities, who ban his highly flammable devotions.

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On Sunday morning, the police say that the besieged Palestinians tried to block the passage of these visitors to the door of the Maghreb, on which a dilapidated wooden bridge emerges that saves the Wailing Wall, remnant of the second Temple. To allow them to come, he pushed, sometimes violently, the Muslim worshipers from the esplanade. It also temporarily prohibited those in the Old City from entering the holy places, through two main gates. He finally cut off the mosque’s loudspeakers, after the besieged launched an appeal to worshipers to join them, then a prayer.

Israeli authorities, however, expected a return to “normalcy” on Sunday, following a violent police crackdown here on Friday. Even before Passover, which coincides for the first time since 1991 with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a call by Jewish extremists to sacrifice a Passover lamb on the esplanade had spread like wildfire in the Palestinian territories, occupied since 1967. provocation had no chance of success.

But it resonated as the army is massively deployed in the West Bank, in response to a wave of attacks that have killed 14 people in Israeli cities since March 22. At least fifteen Palestinians were killed in the West Bank during these attacks. The army carries out arrests and punitive expeditions against the relatives of the attackers. It is positioned on the roads, near the colonies and along the wall that encloses the territories.

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