Arabs riot on Temple Mount, escalate violence

On Friday night, video circulating online showed Arabs throwing chairs, shoes and rocks at police in Jerusalem.

By World Israel News and AP

Late Friday night, Palestinians clashed with Israeli police on the Jewish Temple Mount at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, escalating weeks of violence that have included a deadly drive-by shooting in Samaria and violent rioting in Jerusalem.

Six police officers were wounded, said Israeli law enforcement sources.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 136 people were wounded in clashes with police there and elsewhere in Jerusalem, including 83 who were hospitalized.

Earlier Friday, two Palestinians were killed and a third was wounded after the men opened fire on a base belonging to Israel’s Border Police, the latest in a series of deadly confrontations Arabs launched during the Muslim month of Ramadan. More unrest appears likely next week.

Tensions have soared in recent weeks in eastern portions Jerusalem. At the beginning of the month of Ramadan, due to fears of the spread of corona, Israel blocked off a popular gathering spot where Palestinians traditionally socialize at the end of their daylong fast.

Palestinian leadership used the policy to incite violent rioting among Arabs.

Clashes also erupted after Jews attempted to take possession of property they purchased in Jerusalem, threatening to evict Palestinians occupying the property.

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The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about the heightened tensions and called on all sides to work to de-escalate them.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound sits atop the Jewish Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

It has long been a flashpoint for Palestinian violence and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, a violent wave of terror attacks targeting Israeli civilians.

On Friday night, video circulating online showed Arabs throwing chairs, shoes and rocks at police, who fired stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets to disperse them. Smaller clashes broke out elsewhere in Jerusalem.

The Israeli police said protesters hurled stones, fireworks and other objects at them, wounding six officers who required medical treatment. “We will respond with a heavy hand to all violent disturbances, riots and attacks on our forces,” it said in a statement.

Earlier, some 70,000 worshipers had attended the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa, the Islamic endowment that oversees the site said. Thousands protested afterwards, waving the green flags of the Islamic terror group Hamas and chanting pro-Hamas slogans.

Neighboring Jordan, which serves as the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, had earlier warned Israel against further “provocative” steps, while Israel’s archenemy Iran encouraged the violence.

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In the attack on Friday morning, three attackers fired on the base near the northern Samarian town of Jenin. The Border Police and an Israeli soldier returned fire, killing two of the men and wounding the third, who was evacuated to a hospital.

Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more violence in the coming days.

Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Sunday night is also the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its reunification of the Jewish people’s eternal capital. Israelis observe the day by holding parades and other celebrations in the city.

Iran was meanwhile marking its own Quds, or Jerusalem, Day on Friday. The national holiday typically features anti-Israel protests and anti-Semitic speeches by Iranian leaders predicting Israel’s demise.

“The downward and declining movement of the Zionist regime has begun and will not stop,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address. He called for continuing armed “resistance” in the Palestinian territories and urged Muslim nations support it.

On Thursday, Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a drive-by shooting earlier this week in Samaria that killed an Israeli and wounded two others. The day before, Israeli troops shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian near Nablus where several Palestinians had thrown firebombs toward soldiers.

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Israel’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the Palestinians of seizing on a “real-estate dispute between private parties,\” in order to incite violence.

“The (Palestinian Authority) and Palestinian terror groups will bear full responsibility for the violence emanating from their actions. The Israel police will ensure public order is maintained,” it tweeted earlier in the day.

The Islamic terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and opposes Israel’s existence, has egged on the violence, and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired rockets in support of the protesters.

Earlier this week, the shadowy commander of Hamas’ armed wing, Mohammed Deif, released his first public statement in seven years, in which he warned Israel it would pay a “heavy price.”