More than twenty people were injured this Sunday during clashes between Palestinians et israelis in and around the esplanade of the Jerusalem Mosques, the scene of violent clashes on Friday. The esplanade of the Mosques – also called the Temple Mount by the Jews – is located in the Old City of East Jerusalem, a Palestinian sector occupied since 1967 by Israel.
Early on Sunday, “hundreds” of Palestinian protesters began piling up “stones” in the square shortly before religious Jews arrived at the site, considered the third holiest site in Judaism and Islam, Israeli police said.
Israeli security forces entered the esplanade of the Mosques in order to “evict” these protesters and “restore order”, Israeli police said. The Palestine Red Crescent Society reported 19 Palestinian injuries, some of whom were hit by rubber bullets.
Since the capture in 1967 and then the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel -not recognized by the international community-, Jews have been authorized to access the esplanade at certain times, but not to pray there. Prayer normally takes place at the Western Wall below, although religious Jews have been praying secretly on the esplanade for years.
These incidents occur as Sunday in the Old City of Jerusalem, crossroads of the three monotheistic religions, Christian festivities for Holy Week, prayers for Passover, Pesach, and for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, near the Old City, Palestinian youths hurled stones at buses carrying Israeli civilians, including minors, according to Israeli police. Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem reported seven minor injuries from stone throwing, while Israeli police reported 18 arrests.
“Al-Aqsa (Arabic name given to the esplanade of the mosques, editor’s note) is ours, and the Jews have absolutely no right to it,” Ismaïl Haniyeh, head of the political branch of Al-Aqsa, said in a press release. Hamas, Palestinian armed Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, a territory under Israeli blockade.
For his part, Hussein el-Sheikh, tenor of the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas, called on the international community to put an end to “the flagrant aggression” against the esplanade of the Mosques. In the Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem, the mosques called the faithful to come to the esplanade, according to AFP journalists. And in the Gaza Strip, more than a dozen rockets were fired into the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday morning, according to media close to Hamas.
In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reaffirmed that “the security forces had carte blanche to … guarantee the safety of Israeli citizens.” “We are trying to calm the situation on the ground while taking decisive action against the causes of the violence,” added Naftali Bennett.
For “free” access
On Friday morning, after weeks of tension linked to attacks by two Palestinians in the Tel Aviv area and Israeli “counterterrorism” operations in the occupied West Bank, clashes broke out between Israeli police and protesters on the esplanade. are the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
In particular, Israeli forces entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque during these clashes, where more than 150 Palestinians were injured, an intervention that drew strong condemnation from Muslim countries. Jordan, which administers the esplanade of the Mosques, blamed Israel for this new escalation of violence.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is in Germany, where he underwent surgery for a herniated disc, calls on the Jewish state to “end the illegal and provocative measures that lead to further escalation” of violence, according to a statement. of the royal palace on Sunday.
At the Vatican, during the traditional Easter “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, Pope Francis for his part advocated Sunday for “free” access to Jerusalem’s holy places. “May the Israelis, the Palestinians and all the inhabitants of the Holy City, together with the pilgrims, experience the beauty of peace,” said the sovereign pontiff.
The UN had called for a “de-escalation” to prevent tensions in Jerusalem from turning, like last year, into a war between Hamas and Israel.