Additional clashes in Jerusalem on the eve of the controversial Israeli parade – WISH-TV | Indianapolis Information | Indiana climate
JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police took on Palestinian protesters on Sunday in another night of clashes in East Jerusalem, the day before Israeli nationalists planned to waving an annual flag through the Old City to assert Israeli claims on the disputed area consolidate .
The nightly skirmishes increased the likelihood of further clashes on Monday during the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations. Israeli police kicked off the parade on Sunday, despite days of unrest and mounting Israeli-Palestinian tensions in a holy place and nearby Arab neighborhood where Jewish settlers are trying to evict dozens of Palestinians from their homes.
At a special cabinet meeting ahead of Jerusalem Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel “will not allow extremists to destabilize the peace in Jerusalem. We will enforce law and order resolutely and responsibly. “
“We will continue to uphold freedom of religion for all faiths, but we will not allow violent interference,” he said. At the same time he said: “We strongly reject the pressure not to build in Jerusalem.”
The United States reiterated its “grave concerns” about the situation in Jerusalem, including clashes between Palestinian believers in Jerusalem’s Old City, home to holy sites for Muslims and Jews, and Israeli police and the expected evictions of Palestinian families.
Washington raised its concerns during a telephone conversation between National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart. Sullivan urged Israel, according to a statement by National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne, “to take appropriate measures to ensure calm during the Jerusalem Day commemoration”.
Jerusalem Day is intended to celebrate the conquest of East Jerusalem by Israel, which is home to the Old City and its sensitive holy sites in the 1967 Middle East War. But the annual event is generally perceived as provocative, as die-hard nationalist Israelis, guarded by the police, march through the Old City’s Damascus Gate and through the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall, the holiest place for Jews to pray.
This year the march coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of heightened religious sensitivity, and follows weeks of clashes. This, combined with Palestinian anger over the eviction plan, could create the conditions for a particularly volatile day in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Amos Gilad, a former senior defense official, told Army Radio that the parade should be canceled, or at least kept away from the Damascus Gate. “The powder keg burns and can explode at any time.” Israel’s public broadcaster Kan said the final route of the parade has not yet been determined.
In the past few days, dozens of Palestinians have been wounded in clashes near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city. Known to the Jews as the Temple Mount and the Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, the site is considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. In the past it was a tinderbox for heavy violence.
“The occupier is playing with fire and tampering with Jerusalem is very dangerous,” Saleh Arouri, a senior Hamas official, told the militant group’s Al-Aqsa television station.
Israel conquered East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war. The Palestinians are looking for all three areas for a future state with East Jerusalem as the capital.
The violence, along with the planned evictions in East Jerusalem, has sparked condemnation of Israel’s Arab allies and concerns from the United States, Europe and the United Nations.
During the clashes on Sunday evening, Palestinian protesters called the police and threw stones and bottles at them, while the police fired stun grenades and a water cannon to disperse the crowd. Palestinian medics said at least 14 protesters were injured.
The clashes were less intense than the previous two nights. Police said over 20 police officers had been injured in the past few days.
But there were signs that the violence was starting to spread.
Late Sunday, Palestinian militants fired four rockets at Israel in the Gaza Strip and set off airstrike sirens in the southern city of Ashkelon and nearby areas, the Israeli military said. It was said that one missile was intercepted while two more exploded in Gaza. Early Monday, Israeli tanks and artillery hit several Hamas posts near the border in retaliation for the rocket fire. There were no reports of injuries.
Earlier in the day, Israel launched an air strike on a Hamas post in response to another rocket attack. Gazan protesters affiliated with the Hamas militant group also fired incendiary balloons into southern Israel during the day, causing dozens of fires.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Israeli police clashed with hundreds of Arab students at the Hebrew University of Israel and used stun grenades to disperse the crowd. According to police, 15 people were arrested during another protest in the northern city of Haifa.
Jordan and Egypt, the first two countries to sign peace agreements with Israel, have called on senior Israeli diplomats to condemn Israeli actions.
Jordanian King Abdullah II, who acts as administrator of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, condemned what he called “Israeli violations and escalating practices” and called on Israel to stop its “provocations against Jerusalemites”.
In the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was following the events in Jerusalem with concern and called for an end to the clashes.
“Violence only creates violence,” he told the public gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
In view of the high tensions, the Israeli Supreme Court postponed a decision on possible evictions in Sheikh Jarrah. The decision was expected on Monday but was pushed back by up to 30 days given the “circumstances”, the court said
Palestinians and international rights groups portray the planned evictions as part of a campaign by Israel to evict Palestinians from traditional Arab neighborhoods, particularly in the heart of Jerusalem. Israel has classified the eviction case as a real estate dispute.
The flare-up of hostilities comes to a crucial point in Israel’s political crisis after longtime leader Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition. His opponents are now working to build an alternative government. If they succeed, Netanyahu will be pushed back into the opposition for the first time in 12 years.