More protests and violence are expected today as an Israeli-Arab group and Hamas called for demonstrations in the wake of last night's violence between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police at al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount plaza.
“The aggression of the terrorist occupation army this evening against thousands of worshipers in the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, and the wounding of dozens, is a dangerous indicator of what the occupation is planning in the coming days, for the city and al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Arab High Follow-Up Committee said in a statement.
Muslim worshippers clashed for several hours with police after evening prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan.
Israeli police burst into the al-Aqsa compound last night after Palestinians threw rocks and bottles at officers.
Police said in a statement that “troops began using riot control measures” after “hundreds of suspects started throwing rocks, bottles and other items toward our forces.”
Some 17 Israeli police and more than 200 Palestinians were wounded.
Hamas rejected a plea from Israel sent via Egyptian emissaries calling for calm.
“We tell [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu: don’t play with fire. This is a battle that you cannot win. Israeli arrogance and tyranny will be smashed on the stones of the al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh said.
Tensions remained high today as Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, is expected to draw tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers to Jerusalem.
The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued an alert to Americans to keep a low profile and advised personnel to remain indoors over the next few nights.
“There has been a marked increase in protests in Jerusalem near the Old City, City Center, and parts of North and East Jerusalem, including Sheikh Jarrah and the surrounding areas,” the warning read. “Some protests have turned violent to include vandalism, rock throwing, broken glass, burning of vehicles, and attacks on passersby. Protests and violence may continue to occur, some with little or no warning.”
This week alone has been wrought with protests over planned evictions of Palestinian families from an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem and several terror attacks and attempted attacks in the West Bank.
An Israeli yeshiva student, Yehuda Guetta, 19, was shot and later died of his wounds in one attack. Yesterday, Israeli border police thwarted an attempted attack when three Palestinians opened fire at a military base. Officials later said the three gunmen were on their way to carry out a major attack in Jerusalem.
Tension have been simmering since the beginning of Ramadan when Palestinians clashed nightly with Israeli police outside of Damascus Gate in the Old City and videos circulated on social media of young Arab men attacking Jewish men.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.