More than 150 hurt in Jerusalem clashes as religious festivals overlap

By: AFP
Published: 11:20 AM, 15 Apr, 2022
More than 150 hurt in Jerusalem clashes as religious festivals overlap
Caption: Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
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More than 150 people were wounded Friday in clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the first face-off at the flashpoint holy site since the start of Ramadan.

Israeli police said "dozens of masked men" marched into Al-Aqsa setting off fireworks before crowds hurled stones towards the Western Wall -- considered the holiest site where Jews can pray.

Witnesses said Palestinians threw stones at Israeli forces, who fired rubber-coated bullets and sound grenades.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 153 people were hospitalised and "dozens" of others were treated at the scene. Israeli police said at least three officers were hurt.

Around 400 people were arrested, the Palestinian Prisoner's Club said.

The clashes come after three weeks of deadly violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank, and as the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian Easter overlap with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Al-Aqsa is Islam's third-holiest site. Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount, referencing two temples said to have stood there in antiquity.

Last year during Ramadan, clashes that flared between Israeli forces and Palestinians visiting the mosque compound led to 11 days of devastating conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip's Islamist rulers Hamas.

Before Ramadan this year, Israel and Jordan, which serves as custodian of holy places in east Jerusalem, stepped up talks in an effort to avoid similar violence. 

Friday's clashes come after three weeks of violence and simmering tensions in the Jewish state. 

Israel has been stunned by a string of attacks -- some carried out by Arab citizens of Israel linked to or inspired by the Islamic State group, others by Palestinians, and cheered by militant groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

A total of 14 people have been killed in four attacks since March 22, including a shooting spree in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city in greater Tel Aviv, carried out by a Palestinian attacker from Jenin.

Twenty-one Palestinians have been killed in that time, including assailants who targeted Israelis, according to an AFP tally. 

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.