JERUSALEM: Clashes erupted between Israelis and Palestinians at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque compound on Thursday, after a 10-day cooling of tensions at the holy site, Israeli police said.
In another development, Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected a petition against the eviction of more than 1,000 Palestinian inhabitants of a rural part of the occupied West Bank in an area which Israel has designated for military exercises.
Police said they had repelled “dozens of rioters” who had been “throwing stones and other objects” at the security forces.
An AFP correspondent said there was a heavy police presence in front of the mosque as groups of Jewish worshippers returned to the site for the first time this month.
Israel’s top court paves way for razing Palestinian hamlets
The Palestinian Red Crescent said two people had been injured in clashes.
The clashes came on the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 independence and followed a tense period in which the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan, the Jewish festival of Passover and the Christian holiday of Easter overlapped.
Some 600 Jewish “extremists” converged on the compound, the sheikh of Al Aqsa mosque, Omar al-Kiswani, told AFP.
The Palestinian foreign ministry labelled the Israeli actions a “declaration of religious war” while Jordan condemned Israel for allowing Jewish “extremists” to “break into” the compound.
Palestinians have been angered by an uptick in Jewish visits to the compound, where by longstanding convention Jews may visit but are not allowed to pray.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has said the Jewish state “will not change” this status quo.
The latest morning violence came following a tense April, in which nearly 300 people were injured in clashes between police and Palestinians at Al Aqsa, while violence also flared in the occupied West Bank, following a wave of attacks in Israel and raids by the Israeli military.
A total of 26 Palestinians and three Israeli Arabs have died during the same period, among them perpetrators of attacks and those killed by Israeli security forces in West Bank operations.
After two decades of inconclusive legal maneuvering, Israel’s Supreme Court issued its ruling late on Wednesday on the petition against the eviction of Palestinian inhabitants, paving the way for the demolition of eight small villages in a rocky, arid area near Hebron known to Palestinians as Masafer Yatta and to Israelis as the South Hebron Hills.
In its ruling, the court said it had found the Palestinian dwellers, whose inhabitants have kept a distinct, generations-long nomadic way of life, making a living from farming and herding, had not been permanent residents of the area when the Israeli military first declared it a firing zone in the 1980s.
The court said the door was still open for the villagers to agree with the military on using parts of the land for agricultural purposes and urged the sides to seek a compromise.
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2022