Clashes continue in Jerusalem as Jordanian king urges Israeli restraint
King Abdullah II of Jordan on Sunday called on Israel to “stop all illegal and provocative measures” that drive “further aggravation” in occupied Jerusalem and to respect the existing historical and legal situation.
His remarks came as nearly 20 people were wounded on Sunday in several incidents in and around Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque, two days after major violence at the site.
Palestinian officials accused Israel of trying to divide the sensitive holy site.
The latest clashes take the number of wounded since Friday to more than 170, at a tense time when the Jewish Passover festival coincides with Ramadan.
The Palestinians expect another week of Ramadan full of tension as extremist Jewish groups shout the slogan “This Passover is in Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 19 Palestinians were wounded, including at least five who were hospitalized, during Sunday’s confrontations that erupted in the vicinity of the mosque. Five of them were taken to hospital.
It said that some had been wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets.
According to Palestinian sources, violent clashes erupted at Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday morning after some 728 extremist Jewish people raided its courtyards. Several people were injured and arrested.
The Palestinian sources confirmed that the Israeli police closed Al-Aqsa Mosque and prevented entry to it, while trying to secure a path of entry for Jewish visitors to the major holy site.
Clashes erupted at the Bab Huttah neighborhood adjacent to the Mosque two days after the violent clashes that caused more than 150 injuries and the arrest of around 400 by Israeli police. The youths threw fireworks at the troops stationed at Al-Aqsa Gate and prevented worshippers from entering it.
Israeli police fired regular barrages of rubber bullets and sound bombs at Bab Huttah lane.
Palestinian sources in Jerusalem told Arab News that the Israeli forces had turned the Al-Aqsa compound into a military barracks, as they invaded before 7 a.m on Sunday and emptied its courtyards of worshipers.
The troops surrounded some people inside the Al-Qibli prayer mosque and fired rubber bullets toward them through the windows that they broke on Friday.
They also tampered with external speakers after young men called their friends to come to Al-Aqsa and prevented ambulance crews from entering the mosque to treat the injured.
On Friday morning, police clashed with Palestinians in the compound, including inside the mosque, drawing strong condemnation from Muslim countries. Some 150 people were wounded during those clashes.
Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Adnan Al-Husseini said: “Al-Aqsa has become an arena for the race to please the settlers among the members of the Israeli government, which lost the parliamentary majority.”
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Palestinian Territories, told Arab News: “This is a worrying situation, and it is not acceptable in any way for the Al-Aqsa Mosque to be emptied of its Muslim owners and to allow the settlers to enter it in this harsh manner without taking into account the sanctity and sanctity of the mosque and the dignity of Muslim worshipers.”
He added: “The Israeli occupier does not take into account the situation of the worshipers in the mosque and does not want them to be present during the Jewish extremists’ incursions, and this is unacceptable.”
Israeli sources said that an Egyptian intelligence service delegation made a short visit to Israel on Friday to lead direct mediation efforts in light of the current escalation, which threatens another explosion of the situation in the Gaza Strip.
The sources added that the Egyptian side demanded the Hamas leadership to “control the situation” in the Gaza Strip, expressing fears that any mistake might lead to a new round of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip across its borders, which would push the situation to a point of no return.
The Israeli Channel 12, meanwhile, reported that Israeli right-wing extremist MK Itamar Ben-Gvir was considering moving his office from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to the Damascus Gate area in Jerusalem.
The channel claimed that Ben-Gvir sent a message to the commander of the Jerusalem police on Sunday, saying: “If violence by the Palestinians continues in Jerusalem, and if the political level does not allow you to act freely against them, I will open a parliamentary office at Damascus Gate in the coming days.”
A Hamas statement said that it holds Israel responsible for the repercussions of attacking the Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque at dawn on Sunday and allowing the colonial settlers to raid and desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque, which provokes the feelings of the Palestinian people, Arabs and Muslims around the world.
The Hamas statement added: “The Palestinian people will confront the occupation’s continued aggression against the Palestinian worshippers and thwart its malicious schemes of the temporal and spatial sanctuary of Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. The Palestinian people are committed to protecting Al-Aqsa Mosque and holy land at all costs.”
Nevertheless, the last time the month of Ramadan coincided with Passover and Easter was three decades ago, when thousands of worshippers from all three faiths arrived at the old city area at the same time.