Jerusalem Day festivities shaken by rockets, violent riots

Police stormed the Temple Mount to disperse rioters who fired fireworks and threw stones at security forces. Over 700 people were injured in the clashes, according to the Red Crescent.

Rioters clash with police on Temple Mount, Jerusalem Day 2021 (Credit: Israel Police Spokesman)
Rioting broke out in the Old City of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount as rockets were fired towards Israel’s capital on Monday, marring Jerusalem Day celebrations across the city.
Due to the violence, the police decided to change the path of the Jerusalem Day flag march on Monday afternoon, barring the marchers from entering the Old City through the Damascus Gate, and instead diverted them to the Jaffa Gate. After the rocket fire toward Jerusalem, police asked revelers to return home.
Jerusalem Day flag march begins, May 10, 2021 (Credit: Marc Israel Sellem)Jerusalem Day flag march begins, May 10, 2021 (Credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Despite the decision to change the route – part of an Israeli effort to defuse tensions – clashes broke out between police and hundreds of Palestinian youth at the Damascus Gate shortly after the announcement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a meeting of the security cabinet on Monday afternoon due to the heightened tensions.
“A struggle is now raging over the heart of Jerusalem,” he said during a speech at the annual state ceremony honoring the memory of the Ethiopian Jews who died on their way to Israel. “This is not a new struggle, this is a struggle between intolerance and tolerance; between law-breaking violence and law and order.”
Netanyahu stressed that “only under Israeli sovereignty since 1967 are we witnessing a long, stable and secure period in which we are working to ensure freedom of worship and tolerance for all.”
Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben-Gvir expressed opposition to the decision to change the route of the march, saying “a situation in which the Israeli government and the Jerusalem police are unable to allow the flag dance to pass at the Damascus Gate is a very serious situation.”
Riots shook the Temple Mount throughout the day as Palestinians pelted police with rocks and firecrackers. Police responded with riot dispersal means, including tear gas and rubber bullets. The clashes quickly grew, with police battling crowds of Palestinians throwing stones and barricading themselves in buildings on the mount.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said more than 700 Palestinians were injured in the clashes in the region, over 600 of whom were injured in Jerusalem. Israel Police reported 32 officers were injured the clashes.
Video from the area showed crowds running in all directions as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the Palestinians who were attacking them. Chairs and other objects were seen strewn across the plaza, clouds of tear gas filled the air and explosions were heard across the compound. Buildings in the compound were also damaged, with windows, tables and chairs damaged in al-Aqsa Mosque. 
Video Credit: Israel Police
Palestinians called out over the mosque’s loudspeakers that “the settlers will only pass over our dead bodies” and that “al-Aqsa is defiled,” Palestinian media said.
Around midnight on Monday night, a Hamas spokesman threatened to launch a large-scale attack on Israel if police forces do not evacuate from the Temple Mount compound before 2 a.m..
The spokesman said around two hours later that the terror group had suspended the planned large-scale attack on Israel, claiming that Israeli police responded to the ultimatum.
Israel Police has not yet confirmed that forces have left the compound, or if such a move happened in response to the ultimatum set by Hamas.
Earlier Monday, a car driven by a Jewish Israeli was attacked by rocks just outside of the Lions’ Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. The driver lost control and swerved onto the sidewalk, running over a stone bollard and knocking down a Palestinian rioter.
After the car stopped, more stone throwers approached it and continued to pelt it, opening the doors in an attempt to attack the driver and another male passenger. A policeman quickly arrived at the scene with his gun drawn and pushed back the attackers, rescuing the driver and his passenger.
The car’s occupants, two men aged 27 and 28, were lightly injured and received medical treatment, according to the Magen David Adom emergency rescue service.
“We had stones thrown at us during the whole time we were driving on the street; I was talking with the police on the phone during the whole thing and told them that they were throwing rocks at me,” the driver of the vehicle told KAN news. “I had nowhere to go and so I started driving back and forth; at some point the car stopped and they opened the door and began hitting us.”
Later on Monday night, a fire broke out at the Temple Mount plaza amid further clashes between Palestinians and police, with video showing trees on fire at the compound. The fire was quickly extinguished.
Video Credit: Israel Police
Additionally, Jewish Israelis and Palestinians clashed in the Old City and near the Damascus Gate on Monday afternoon, according to Palestinian media.
The Jerusalem District Court, including the ongoing trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was evacuated on Monday due to the explosive security situation in east Jerusalem.
The trial did run from 9:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., but was scheduled to run until 3:30 p.m.
No specific threat was occurring at the time, but the judges were advised by their security team that it would be safer to leave before any potential situation might develop later.
Over 337 Palestinians were injured in the clashes on Monday morning, including Red Crescent medics who arrived at the scene to treat the wounded. At least seven people were reported to be in serious condition, the Red Crescent said. Some 21 police officers were injured amid the clashes, according to Israeli media.
Hadassah-University Medical Center said it was treating five people who were lightly hurt, including a seven-month-old baby girl, who was hit by a stone.
Israel police in Ramla-Lod reported that 16 demonstrators were arrested during riots in which youths were seen throwing stones and launchng fireworks at police and buildings, while also burning trash cans and tires.
Haaretz reported that protesters set fire to cars and tried to set fire to a police station in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood of the city. Police reportedly responded with tear gas, stun grenades and batons.
A video shared on social media showed a demonstrator in Lod on Monday night climbing up a streetlight, taking down an Israeli flag and replacing it with a Palestinian flag. 
Police reported 10 demonstrators were arrested in Rahat and another five were arrested in Tel Sheva, both in southern Israel, after demonstrators arrived at both towns' police stations and caused property damage. 
Police reported another 15 were arrested near the now-closed Kerem Shalom crossing for throwing stones.
Another 15 protesters were arrested in Haifa after police declared their protest illegal, reporting that demonstrators threw stones and bottles and launched fireworks toward police, while also setting fire to trash cans.
Police reported that 13 were arrested in Wadi Ara for attempting to ram into police with a car, throwing rocks and setting fire to trash cans and tries.
Police reported evacuating a woman in Shoket Junction on Route 6 late on Monday night after rioters pulled her out of the vehicle she was driving and set fire to it. A truck driver who saw the incident allowed the driver to take shelter in his truck until police arrived.
Police also reported that another driver on Route 6 was lightly injured when his vehicle pelted with rocks late on Monday night.
Two Afula residents were lightly injured late on Monday night when rioters pelted their vehicle with rocks - smashing their windshield in the process - on Route 65, near Umm al-Fahm.
The two men were evacuated to Emek Medical Center in Afula to receive treatment for bruises and cuts on their faces.
Ma'ariv reported several items were burned on the road leading to Umm al-Fahm on Monday evening.
Demonstrators burn a couch and several other items on the road near Umm al-Fahm, May 5, 2021. (Credit: Eliav Batito/Ma'ariv Online)
The clashes and protests erupted following violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and along the Gaza border that was sparked in recent weeks as Palestinians expressed outrage at the planned eviction of a number of families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
Some eight Border Police reserve brigades were called up on Tuesday morning to help police handle the violence breaking out across Israel.
Terror groups in the Gaza Strip also launched over 160 rockets and explosive and incendiary balloons towards southern Israel on Monday, long into the night.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a meeting of the security cabinet on Monday afternoon due to the heightened tensions.
"A struggle is now raging over the heart of Jerusalem," said Netanyahu, in reference to clashes, during a speech on Monday at the annual state ceremony in memory of the Jews of Ethiopia who died en route to Israel in the 1980s. "This is not a new struggle, this is a struggle between intolerance and tolerance, between law-breaking violence and law and order."
Netanyahu stressed that "only under Israeli sovereignty since 1967 are we are witnessing a long, stable and secure period in which we are working to ensure freedom of worship and tolerance for all." 
The prime minister added that ensuring the freedom of worship requires occasional confrontation with the "forces of intolerance," expressing support for the police and security forces. "These things have of course a misguided, incorrect and misleading expression in the global media," added Netanyahu.
The Palestinian terror groups have threatened Israel and called for a "general mobilization" in Jerusalem, the West Bank and in Arab-Israeli communities.
"The spiteful Zionist terrorist attack on our Jerusalemites will not pass without a deterrent response, and the enemy must wait for the response of the resisting and steadfast Palestinian people everywhere and at all times," the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group said on Monday. "Everyone must act to save the people of Jerusalem. This is everyone’s battle, and the resistance is present, and it will not be far from what is happening."
The PIJ also condemned the continued security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
Hamas said that the clashes were "a religious war practiced by the occupation, and it is evidence of the brutality of the Zionist occupation and its Nazism."
"We call on our people to persevere in the face of the storming, and to offer the precious as a sacrifice for the purification of al-Aqsa and to prevent the settlers from entering it," said Hamas. "We affirm that the occupation will pay a heavy price as a result of its incursion into al-Aqsa and its worshipers."
Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas's political bureau, warned on Monday afternoon that the terrorist groups in Gaza are "ready and motivated and will not stand idly by, and its word will be the last word in the battle if the occupation does not retreat and put an end to its satanic plans."
Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.