More than 100 injured in ‘Day of Rage’ Israeli-Palestinian clashes
Rising political and religious tensions in Jerusalem spilled into the streets Tuesday with a string of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police that left more than 100 people injured.
In scenes reminiscent of past uprisings, dozens of Palestinian youths, some with scarves masking their faces, pelted police with rocks, blocked roads and burned tires in half a dozen neighborhoods around East Jerusalem.
Israeli police, who have been on high alert for days, responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades, witnesses said.
Nine police officers were wounded in the skirmishes and 60 Palestinians were arrested, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Dozens of Palestinians were treated for tear-gas inhalation, and two men were hit in the face with rubber bullets, Palestinians said.
Such clashes have been increasingly common in recent weeks as Palestinians grow frustrated by the lack of peace talks and what they see as Israeli expansions into Palestinian-dominated neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and the Old City.
Tuesday’s protests were part of a “Day of Rage” called for by Palestinian leaders in response to the recent reopening of a historic synagogue in the Old City.
Israeli security officials downplayed concerns that the recent violence could spiral into a “third intifada,” or uprising.
Leaders of the Palestinian Authority have also disavowed the use of violence, though several Palestinian leaders called upon their supporters to take part in Tuesday’s demonstrations.
For nearly a week, more than 3,000 Israeli police have been deployed to protect the city. On Monday, police set up barricades around the Old City gates and restricted access for young men who could not prove they lived inside. Tourists were prohibited from entering the Temple Mount compound, police officials said.
Though the U.S. had been engaged in a high-profile dispute with the Israel government over a proposed 1,600-unit housing settlement in a disputed neighborhood of Jerusalem, the protests in recent days have stemmed from the reopening of the Hurva synagogue, which was destroyed by Jordanian forces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Extremists on both sides have used the synagogue’s reopening to inflame passions. Jewish groups heralded the occasion as an opportunity to begin rebuilding a third Jewish temple on the current site of the Western Wall, a key site of the Jewish religion, and the Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock, one of Islam’s holiest sites.
Abukhater is a special correspondent.