Arab rioters return to Jerusalem after night of chaos

After Israeli police arrested dozens during Friday night rioting in Jerusalem, Arabs returned on Saturday and tangled with law enforcement.

By World Israel News Staff and AP

On Saturday night, Palestinians again gathered in Jerusalem to provoke police outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate

This location has been the site of nightly clashes since the Muslim month of Ramadan began.

Officers attempted to move Palestinians away from the stairs outside the gate.

In recent weeks, Arabs have also uploaded videos to social media of random violent attacks on Jews.

On Saturday night, Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai blasted “extremists from both sides,” referring to Arab rioters and Jewish activists who staged a protest march over the violence on Thursday night.

On Friday evening, Israeli police said 44 people were arrested and 20 officers were wounded in a night of chaos in Jerusalem, where security forces separately clashed with Palestinians angry about Ramadan restrictions and Jewish activists who held a march nearby.

Meanwhile, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired at least 10 rockets toward Israel late Friday and early Saturday in the worst cross-border flare-up in months. Some of the missiles were intercepted by Israeli air defenses and others fell near the Gaza frontier. The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for some of the rocket fire and Hamas’ armed wing warned Israel “not to test” its patience.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people challenged nightly curfews imposed by Gaza’s Hamas rulers to curb the coronavirus outbreak and took to the streets in an act of solidarity with fellow rioters in Jerusalem.

But late Friday, dozens of Palestinians marched toward an entrance to the walled Old City of Jerusalem and threw stones and other items at officers. Six Palestinians were injured with two hospitalized.

Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police on a nightly basis since the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan. The tensions began when police placed barricades outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, where Muslims traditionally gather to enjoy the evening after the daytime fast.

Late Thursday, hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones and bottles at police, who fired a water cannon and stun grenades to disperse them. Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in the melee.

Meanwhile, a right-wing Jewish group known as Lehava led a march of hundreds of protesters chanting “Arabs get out!” toward the Damascus Gate. The show of force came in response to videos circulated on TikTok showing Palestinians violently attacking religious Jews at random.

Videos circulated online showed smaller clashes and fires elsewhere in the city. One video showed what appeared to be a group of Palestinians beating an ultra-Orthodox Jew near Damascus Gate. They could be seen punching, kicking and throwing him to the ground before police chased them off.

The U.S. Embassy said it was “deeply concerned” about the violence in recent days. “We hope all responsible voices will promote an end to incitement, a return to calm, and respect for the safety and dignity of everyone in Jerusalem,” it said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians attended weekly prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday, a structure built on top of the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site.

Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, condemned the “police and settlers’ attack on Palestinians in Jerusalem” in his Friday sermon.

The sprawling hilltop compound has seen clashes on a number of occasions over the years and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

“After a long series of protests and demonstrations, we have reached the conclusion that without weapons, we cannot liberate our land, protect our holy sites, bringing back our people to their land or maintain our dignity,” said senior leader of the Hamas terror group, Mahmoud Zahar, on Friday.