Over 100 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem on Saturday night and Sunday morning, amid violent riots throughout the capital and the West Bank, fueled by tensions surrounding planned evictions in east Jerusalem.
Over 90,000 worshippers visited al-Aqsa Mosque on Saturday night to mark Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power), which commemorates the night that Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.
On Sunday morning, clashes broke out on the Temple Mount between Palestinians and Israeli forces, with the doors of at least one of the gates to the compound being closed amid the clashes. At least 10 people were injured.
عاجل : إغلاق باب الأسباط إثر مواجهات عنيفة ضد قوات الاحتلال بالمسجد الأقصى pic.twitter.com/ynvCeL0dcV— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) May 9, 2021
"We have 20 wounded soldiers, including one Border Police officer who is in moderate condition," Israel Police spokesperson Commander Eli Levi told KAN news on Sunday morning, adding that the Police is ready for whatever comes this week. Violent clashes were also reported near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, with video footage taken by Palestinian media showing stun grenades being fired toward crowds in the area.
The IDF and the Police increased their presence throughout Jerusalem after the violent clashes and thwarting of a “major attack” overshadowed the end of Ramadan in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the weekend.
Clashes broke out on Saturday night by the Damascus Gate and near the Temple Mount, as well as in a number of sites in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, including Budrus in the northern West Bank and the Huwwara checkpoint near Nablus.
المواجهات الدائرة في منطقة باب العامود بالقدس pic.twitter.com/hnMMsUUsKa— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) May 8, 2021
According to Palestinian reports, a number of Palestinians fired shots towards the Jalameh checkpoint north of Jenin.
Video from the Damascus Gate showed rioters clashing with police, who fired stun grenades and tear gas. Images showed a number of injured people, including a widely-shared photo of a woman with a bloodied face being carried by two men.
At least 90 Palestinians were injured during the clashes on Saturday night, with over 20 of the injured transferred to hospitals for further treatment. The Palestinian Red Crescent claimed that Israeli security forces prevented ambulances from reaching the Damascus Gate area to treat the wounded.
The injuries were mostly caused by rubber bullets, stun grenades and beatings, according to Palestinian reports.
On Sunday morning, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon told Army Radio that the violent altercations that took place on Saturday night were carried out on the Palestinian side mostly by Islamic-Jihadists from the North and South, not by residents of Jerusalem.
On Saturday night, two suspects were arrested in Sheikh Jarrah after attacking police officers with pepper spray. The officers approached the suspects after they were spotted causing damage to property in the area.
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana conducted a situational evaluation with police chief Kobi Shabtai and Jerusalem District commander Doron Turjeman, as well as other officials, amid the unrest on Saturday night.
"Israel Police is constantly working to enable freedom of worship and maintain order and security. At the same time, we will not allow violent riots, law breaking and harming police officers," said Shabtai. "We ask everyone to de-escalate the violence, especially on such an important day for the Islamic religion."
"Large forces are now working in Jerusalem to allow anyone who wants to come and pray as part of Laylat al-Qadr to do so freely, and indeed tens of thousands of worshipers are expected, but also to prevent any violence and violation of law and order," said Ohana.
"Yesterday, Border Police forces thwarted a major attack that could have taken place in Jerusalem," added Ohana. "We have no intention of compromising on the safety and security of Israeli citizens and security forces. I call on everyone to calm down and resume their routine, I wish a happy holiday to Muslims and a good week to all."
Amid the protests on Saturday night, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip rioted along the border fence, throwing explosives and lighting large fires. During the night, a rocket was fired from Gaza towards southern Israel, setting off an alert in an open area. The IDF responded by striking a military position belonging to Hamas.
Tensions have risen substantially throughout Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan over the potential eviction of Palestinians from homes in the disputed neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem.
Violent clashes broke out at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday between worshipers and security forces, just as tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers gathered to mark the last Friday prayers of the Ramadan month of fasting.
The violence has drawn international condemnations and calls for calm, from the US to the UAE.
Two people were arrested and another detained on Saturday following a brawl at A-Tur junction in east Jerusalem on suspicion of engaging in the violence and using a weapon, while two others were arrested after allegedly assaulting police officers on Hagai Street in Jerusalem.
During the brawl, one of those detained allegedly fired a shot into the air. After police arrived, the suspects pelted them with stones, which is what also led to their arrests.
Five protesters in the Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm were also arrested on Saturday after allegedly throwing stones at a police station.
Hundreds of people were spotted walking up to Jerusalem on Saturday afternoon as Israel Police stopped traffic heading into Jerusalem just ahead of Laylat al-Qadr, one day after violent clashes erupted on the Temple Mount.
The police stated that they had stopped traffic to investigate passengers on one bus of a row of buses, heading to Jerusalem to bring Muslims to al-Aqsa mosque.
However, the buses were left standing in place as police conducted checks, so passengers embarked on foot. According to Israeli media, one specific bus was stopped for investigation of the passengers, leaving the entire road blocked. Following the investigations, police opened the highway for travelers to Jerusalem.
Route 1 was left at a standstill as a result of the security checks.
In response to the road blockage, the police spokesperson indicated that they intend to prevent anyone wishing to commit violent acts from arriving in Jerusalem.
"The Israel Police respects all religions and will continue to allow freedom of worship. At the same time, the police will not allow protesters to arrive in Jerusalem for the purpose of participating in violent disturbances," the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, dozens of protesters carrying Palestinian flags gathered in Jaffa's Clock Square on Saturday evening, crying out chants about al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah, and voicing opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In Sheikh Jarrah on Saturday night, police dispersed protesters after they threw rocks, according to the police spokesperson. The police also allegedly set up checkpoints in order to quell the violence, Walla News reported.
Demonstrations by Arab-Israelis and Palestinians also have been taking place in numerous localities on Saturday over police conduct at the Aqsa Mosque on Friday.