Tensions between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem continued into Sunday night and Monday morning, with a total of over 300 Palestinians injured in violent clashes over the weekend.
Confrontations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City have been intensified following a court ruling that tried to evict several Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
In spite of the unrest at the flashpoint, Israeli police on Sunday gave a greenlight to the annual Jerusalem Day parade, raising the possibility of further clashes and soaring tensions in the region.
The international community has voiced concerns over the Palestinian-Israeli tensions, calling on Israel to exercise maximum restraint, respect the freedom of peaceful demonstrations and cease its eviction plan.
Fresh clashes erupted at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which was considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, after the end of the Morning Prayer early on Sunday.
At least 10 Palestinians were injured, including five that were injured by a rubber-coated bullet in their heads, the Palestinian Red Crescent said in a statement.
The Sunday night’s clashes that were less intense than those on the previous two nights, Palestinian protesters threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at Israeli police, while police fired stun grenades and water cannon to disperse the crowds, mostly young Palestinians, injuring at least seven people, the Red Crescent said.
Amid the escalating tensions, Israeli police said the Jerusalem Day’s flag-waving parade will take place as scheduled in East Jerusalem on Monday.
In Monday’s parade, thousands of Israelis are expected to march through the Old City, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed shortly afterwards.
This year’s celebration coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and heightened devotion and worship.
This special occasion, combined with Palestinian anger over the eviction plan, would highly likely make Monday a volatile day.
With tensions running high, the Israeli Justice Ministry said on Sunday that it would postpone a court hearing over the possible eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, a strategic location close to the Old City.
“In light of all the circumstances and the attorney general’s request, the regular hearing on May 10, is cancelled,’’ it said in a statement.
It added that a new hearing would be scheduled within 30 days.
Earlier this year, a district court ruled in favour of Jewish settlers who claimed the property of land in the Sheikh Jarrah district.
The decision was seen by Palestinians as part of an Israeli campaign to drive them from traditional Arab neighbourhoods.
The Israeli government has downplayed the Sheikh Jarrah controversy and denied any government’s involvement in the dispute. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it was a real estate dispute between private parties.
In the 1967 Six-Day War, East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, were captured by Israel. The Palestinian people seek all three areas for a future state, with East Jerusalem as their capital.
The rising tensions have drawn massive international concerns. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday expressed deep concern over the continuing violence in the region, urging Israel to exercise maximum restraint.
Israeli authorities must exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. All leaders have a responsibility to act against extremists and to speak out against all acts of violence and incitement.
The UN chief also urged Israel to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Many Middle East countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran, as well as the Arab League, have condemned the Israeli actions against the Palestinian people in East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Egypt and Jordan have summoned senior Israeli diplomats to protest the ongoing Israeli violations against Palestinians.
The recent Israeli practices in East Jerusalem contradicted international law and its historical and legal status quo, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry’s Secretary-General Yousef Bataineh said, warning of the consequences of continuing provocations and escalation.
In a phone call with Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Sunday expressed serious concerns about the situation in East Jerusalem.