Israel faced mounting international pressure to rein in right-wing Jewish settlers and end planned evictions from a crucial East Jerusalem neighborhood that led to violent clashes between police and Palestinians, including on the grounds of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which both signed a peace treaty with Israel last year, condemned Israel, while the United States – the Jewish State’s closest ally – said it was deeply concerned about the plan to expel several Palestinian families. . the Sheikh Jarrah district has been around for generations. Turkey called Israel’s actions “terrorism.”
“It is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or move us further from peace,” said the US State Department, citing Israeli expansion activities in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as triggers. .
Thousands of young Palestinians protested at the hilltops around Al-Aqsa Mosque Friday night, and Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowd after breaking the daily fast during Ramadan. About 200 Palestinians were injured, none of them fatally, and 17 police officers were injured, Palestinian and Israeli medics said.
Police said the Palestinians had thrown stones, fireworks and other objects at officers. Videos posted online showed police tossing stun grenades into crowds, including one entering the mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
The mosque is in an area controlled by Israel, which conquered East Jerusalem from Jordanian control in 1967, but managed by an Islamic foundation.
Turkey condemned Israel for the confrontation at al-Aqsa
“Cruel Israel, the terrorist state of Israel, is cruel and unethical
attacking Muslims in Jerusalem, ” the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, said in comments on television. “It is the duty of every Muslim
protect the hour, dignity and pride of Jerusalem. Any attack on
Jerusalem’s places of worship and Muslims are attacking us. “
The area where the mosque is located is called the Temple Mount by Jews and is the holiest site in Judaism – the original home of the second temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Many Jews worship at the Western Wall, the remaining part of the temple, and look in his direction during prayers.
Jewish settlers have been targeting Sheikh Jarrah, a middle-class Arab neighborhood on the border between East and West Jerusalem, for decades, with the goal of making the area Jewish until the age of majority.
Sheikh Jarrah is home to the legendary American Colony Hotel, a relatively affluent Arab middle-class population and ends close to the Old Damascus Gate, an entrance to Jerusalem’s walled Old City. It also houses an ancient tomb of a Jewish high priest, Simon the Righteous.
Long-term lawsuits involving the homes of several Palestinian families are expected to reach a verdict soon, with family lawyers bracing for a ruling that will hand their homes over to the settlers.
At the heart of the dispute is whether the families legally owned the houses before 1967, when the neighborhood was controlled by Jordan, or whether the land belonged to a Jewish trust that legally purchased it from Arab families in 1876 during the Ottoman era. Large areas of the neighborhood had been razed while under Jordanian control between 1948 and 1967 – the trust eventually sold its property to Jewish settlers, while the Arab families remained in their homes and filed documents with the court confirming the purchase of the trust on parts is disputed. of the country in question. The private property rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories are recognized by Israeli law, but human rights organizations have documented that Palestinians regularly lose lawsuits related to these rights.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said they had already provided documentation that the families were the ‘legitimate owners’ of their homes.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday, which is also Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of Israel’s victory in the 1967 war, when it captured the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
While relatively peaceful in the rest of the country, Jerusalem Day is a regular focal point between Palestinians in East Jerusalem and right-wing Israelis.
Arab groups announced massive protests on Saturday, and Israeli police have stepped up their efforts with the protests expected to peak on Monday.