Hundreds injured in clash between Palestinians and Israeli forces at holy site in Jerusalem

Hundreds injured in clash between Palestinians and Israeli forces at holy site in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM – Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces at a holy site in Jerusalem on Monday on the anniversary of Israel’s capture of Jerusalem.

About 215 Palestinians were injured in the violence, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said, with some taken to hospitals in the area.

Nine Israeli policemen were injured and one received medical treatment, according to Israeli police.

Israeli police had banned Jews from entering the compound. Police said they also plan to redirect a traditional Jerusalem Day march in which thousands of Jews waving the Israeli flag pass through the city, including the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

The injured on Monday included a 7-month-old Israeli baby, who was hit on the head with a stone and is now under observation in a pediatric emergency room, Hadassah Hospital spokesman Hadar Elboim said. In total, the hospital treated five people, all in mild condition.

The violence comes after dozens of people were seriously injured on Friday inside the mosque before a special evening prayer held during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Red Crescent Society said Israeli forces used rubber bullets on Palestinians on Monday and medics were denied access to injured people inside the mosque.

The site, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, worshipers often sleep inside the mosque.

According to Israeli police, the clashes began when Palestinian protesters threw stones at a door leading to the Western Wall, where thousands of Jews had gathered to pray. Police then ordered forces to push back the protesters, police said.

“Extremist Palestinians had planned well in advance to start riots today on the Temple Mount,” tweeted Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with photos of piles of rocks.

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Israeli police released a video of Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli forces outside the mosque.

A spokesperson for the mosque said the clashes began when police attempted to evacuate the compound to allow Israelis to enter. Israel provides security for the compound, while neighboring Jordan manages the ceremonial and religious aspects of the complex.

“We expected since yesterday that the police would attack the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” spokesman Awni Bazbaz said. “At around 8 am this morning, the police started entering the compound to evacuate worshipers inside the mosque and the compound. They immediately started attacking.”

On Monday, Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces in the grounds of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.Mahmoud Illean / AP

Tensions in Jerusalem escalated throughout the month of Ramadan after Israel blockaded a popular spot where Muslims traditionally congregate every night at the end of their one-day fast. Israel later lifted the restrictions, but the clashes continued.

The violence also preceded a crucial court case in a long-running legal battle involving the homes of four Palestinian families on land claimed by Jewish settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday postponed a key decision, citing “the circumstances.”

Israel captured East Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank and Gaza, in a 1967 Six-Day War with its Arab neighbors. Israel regards the entire city as its capital and has annexed East Jerusalem, a move unrecognized by the majority of the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza, to be part of a future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu expressed support for Israeli forces on Monday and told a state memorial service for Ethiopian Jews that Israel “is working to ensure freedom of worship and tolerance for all.”

“It’s not a task we can accomplish without confrontation every now and then,” he said.

In another violent incident on Monday, Palestinian protesters threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and its driver that were driving just outside the walls of the Old City. In a video released by the Israeli police, the driver appeared to lose control and crashed into a bystander.

The clashes in Jerusalem came when Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Israel and launched incendiary balloons, setting off fires in the south of the country.

Lawahez Jabari reported from Jerusalem; Paul Goldman reported from Tel Aviv and Rachel Elbaum reported from London.