Israeli police clashed with Palestinian protesters at the Temple Mount compound Monday, the latest in a series of confrontations that is pushing the contested city to the brink of eruption.
Despite a calm that set in around noon, the riots continued around 4:30 p.m. as hundreds of teens celebrated Jerusalem Day with the traditional Flag Dance that included a march throughout the city. As a result, the Israel Police cleared the Damascus Gate area, where many of the riots were taking place.
Around 2 p.m., shortly after the clashes subsided on the compound itself when rocks were hurled on a bus carrying yeshiva students on their way to the Tower of David. The bus was damaged, but the passengers suffered only minor wounds due to glass shards. This, as the main prayer service at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, ended without incident and with 5,000 Muslim worshippers taking part.
The heightened tensions have led to speculation that the traditional “flag dance” to celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War might be canceled, but the Israel Police later said it would continue as planned despite fears that its route might stir more clashes, but in a last-minute change it ordered that it won’t pass through the Damascus Gate in the Muslim Quarter as this might stir more controversy and lead to bloodshed. The event took off around 3:30 p.m. with beefed-up security, as the clashes intensified.
Palestinian medics said at least 300 Palestinians were hurt in the violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, including at least 80 who were hospitalized. Rioters threw fireworks and rocks at police, who responded with riot control measures, including tear gas, stun grenades, and warning shots.
Police said protesters hurled stones at officers and onto an adjoining roadway near the Western Wall, where thousands of Israeli Jews had gathered to pray.
In a statement, police alleged extremists were behind the violence and said it would “not allow extremists to harm the safety and security of the public.” Continue Reading…