Israeli Police Clash with Palestinian Crowd in Jerusalem


Israeli Police Clash with Palestinian Crowd in Jerusalem

Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli police by the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday night during protests against Israeli restrictions in the area, leading to three arrests.

Israel Police deployed water cannons, stun grenades and mounted officers fanned out across the area in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Three Palestinians were arrested, with Israel Police accusing them of attacking officers on the scene.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, four Palestinians were wounded during the clashes and received medical treatment.

Police claimed on Sunday night that Palestinians hurled stones at officers. A reporter on the scene for the Israeli daily Haaretz disputed the account, attesting that no stones were thrown and that “most protesters remained nonviolent.”

Nightly clashes between Palestinians and police have broken out close to Damascus Gate since the beginning of the Ramadan holiday last Tuesday. East Jerusalem Palestinians have thrown stones at buses and shot fireworks at police, according to Israel Police. At least one officer has been lightly injured in the clashes.

Palestinians shout in front of Israeli security forces who block a road leading to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on September 13, 2015. Palestinians clashed with Israeli police at Al-Aqsa mosque compound just hours before the start of the Jewish New Year. The disturbances came with tensions running high after Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon last week outlawed the Murabitat (for females) and Murabitun groups which are made up of east Jerusalem Palestinians and Israeli Arabs and who confront Jewish visitors to the volatile Al-Aqsa mosque complex, considered Islam’s third holiest shrine.

A handful of East Jerusalem Palestinians have circulated videos in which they can be seen striking apparently uninvolved Ultra-Orthodox and religious Jewish passersby. The clips, uploaded to the social network Tiktok, evoked widespread condemnation by both Jewish and Arab MKs.

The Islamic holy month, which often sees nighttime mass gatherings, has often been a flashpoint for violence between young Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

The clashes appeared to have been sparked by a decision by Jerusalem Police to prevent Palestinians from sitting on the steps of Damascus Gate. In an unofficial Jerusalem tradition, thousands of Palestinians often sit in the area following nighttime prayers during Ramadan.

Police officers have responded forcefully to the crowds. In one video widely distributed on social media, an officer can be seen brutally striking a subdued Palestinian man in the head, seemingly without being provoked.

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Division — the body charged with overseeing police misconduct — announced on Sunday that it would open an investigation into the incident.