Dozens of Palestinian worshippers have been injured in clashes with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, as weeks-long tensions between Israel and the Palestinians over Jerusalem soared again.
Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of Palestinian worshippers packed into the mosque on the final Friday of Ramadan and many stayed on to protest in support of Palestinians facing eviction from their homes on Israeli-occupied land claimed by Jewish settlers.
Over the past week, residents of Sheikh Jarrah, as well as Palestinian and international solidarity activists, have attended nightly vigils to support the Palestinian families under threat of forced displacement.
Israeli border police and forces have attacked the sit-ins using skunk water, tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and shock grenades over the past few days. Dozens of Palestinians have been arrested.
Here are the latest updates:
Calls for police to withdraw
Appealing for calm on the compound through the mosque’s loudspeakers, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, called on Israeli police to halt their attacks and withdraw from the mosque courtyard.
“Police must immediately stop firing stun grenades at worshippers, and the youth must calm down and be quiet!”
Iran’s Khamenei calls for continuing ‘resistance’
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called in a televised address for continuing armed “resistance” in the Palestinian territories and urged Muslim nations support it.
“The downward and declining movement of the Zionist regime has begun and will not stop,” said Khamenei as Iran marked its own Quds, or Jerusalem, Day.
The national holiday typically features anti-Israel protests and fiery speeches by Iranian leaders predicting Israel’s demise.
Hamas warns of consequences
Ismail Haniya, chief of the Hamas political bureau, has warned of “consequences for the aggression” at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Haniya reportedly contacted a number of officials in the region calling on their support to stand up to the the attacks on Palestinian worshipers in Al-Aqsa, reported Palestinian media.
Another member of the Hamas political bureau, Mahmoud al-Zahhar condemned Arabs leaders for remaining are “silent as they watch the attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
He said the only solution to the situation in Jerusalem would be through “armed resistance”.
Situation expected to ‘flare up’
Reporting from Ramallah, Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim said that the situation likely to flare
“We know that two Palestinians have been seriously wounded at least. The rest are still going to hospitals.
“Also we’ve heard from our sources in Jerusalem that there are Palestinians who were leaving the Al-Aqsa compound that are getting beaten up by the Israeli police,” she said.
“We are expecting this situation to flare up even further as on Monday, there is what Israelis call the Jerusalem Day. It coincides with Laylat-ul-Qadar, which is the holiest nights during Ramadan,” added Ibrahim.
Protesters hold vigil near Sheikh Jarrah
Police also used water cannon mounted on armoured vehicles to disperse Palestinian protesters and solidarity activists gathered near the homes of families facing potential eviction.
Dozens remained near the entrance of Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood where Israeli police had erected barricades to stop them from entering the residential area.
Some chanted a refrain common at Jerusalem protests: “With our soul, with our blood, we will redeem you, oh Aqsa.”
رصاصة رصاصة ورصاصة اسرائيل الرقاصة🤣
عن ستوي @m7mdkurd pic.twitter.com/hr57Mv7JDZ
— rafat (@akhouy_) May 7, 2021
Israeli police fire stun grenades inside Al-Aqsa Mosque
Palestinian worshippers shared videos from inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque showing Israeli police forces firing stun grenades.
Worshippers ran away as smoke filled the Mosque, also known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
شاهد: لحظة قمع الاحتلال المصلين في #المسجد_الأقصى المبارك. pic.twitter.com/J1O45ghN3E
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) May 7, 2021
Turkey condemns Israeli raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque
Several senior Turkish officials condemned the raid by Israeli police on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.
“Strongly condemning the attack this evening on al-Aqsa Mosque, our first Qibla. It is inhumane for Israel to target innocents praying during Holy Ramadan,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter, referring to the Muslim holy month.
“Will always stand by the just cause of the people of #Palestine,” Cavusoglu added, wishing a speedy recovery to those injured in the Israeli raid.
Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also condemned Israeli police forces for attacking Palestinian worshippers.
Strongly condemning the attack this evening on al-Aqsa Mosque,our first Qibla. It is inhumane for Israel to target innocents praying during Holy Ramadan. Wishing speedy recovery to our injured brothers and sisters. Will always stand by the just cause of the people of #Palestine.
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) May 7, 2021
Palestinian president holds Israel ‘responsible’
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said in a televised statement that the Israeli government is fully responsible for the recent incidents in Jerusalem, as well as any repercussions that result from the ongoing escalation.
He also voiced “full support for our heroes in Aqsa”.
Abbas also urged the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to protect the Palestinian people.
He underlined that the “brutality and terrorism” of the Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem would only make Palestinians more attached to their national right.
Turkey calls on Israel to halt illegal settlements
Turkey called on Israel to abandon its policy of building illegal settlements in Eastern Jerusalem.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s remarks came at a news conference with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki in the Turkish capital Ankara.
The Turkish official said Israel maintained its “occupation policy” in Eastern Jerusalem and Western Bank without a pause, and it was taking new steps to expand illegal settlements or transfer Palestinian houses to illegal settlers, which could pave the way for further destabilization in the future.
US: ‘Critical’ to de-escalate Jerusalem tensions
The United States called for de-escalation in occupied east Jerusalem, and warned against carrying out a threatened eviction of Palestinian families.
“We’re deeply concerned about the heightened tensions in Jerusalem,” said deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter.
She said it was “critical” to “de-escalate tensions” and avoid any unilateral steps that could worsen the situation – such as “evictions, settlement activity and demolition.”
Medics say dozens of Palestinians injured at Al-Aqsa
At least 53 Palestinians were injured and 23 were hospitalised in confrontations with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service.
It said most were wounded in the face and eyes by rubber-coated bullets and shrapnel from stun grenades fired by Israeli police.
Six officers were also injured, Israeli police said.
Right now—the last Friday of Ramadan, the most sacred time of year for Muslims—Israeli forces are shooting rubber bullets & stun grenades at Palestinians inside Al Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam. There is no escaping the occupation’s violence. pic.twitter.com/Cixd9GSBfH
— IMEU (@theIMEU) May 7, 2021
Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah say they are ‘terrified’
Mohammed el-Kurd, a Palestinian resident of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, earlier on Friday shared photos on social media showing armed Jewish settlers walking around the neighbourhood.
“What if they massacre us?” he asked. “Our families are terrified.”
Right now in Sheikh Jarrah: settlers are walking around armed while no Palestinians are allowed in. LOOK AND LOOK AGAIN.
What if they massacre us?! Our families are terrified. Who’s to save us?! pic.twitter.com/tic35KCFfN
— mohammed el-kurd (@m7mdkurd) May 7, 2021
Israeli police block off Sheikh Jarrah
Israeli police blocked off the entrances of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to hundreds of Palestinians and solidarity activists trying to enter the area, said activists.
Protesters who were prevented from entering Sheikh Jarrah held a group iftar, the evening meal which breaks the daily fast during Ramadan, and held a vigil at the police barricades.
Earlier today the Israeli police tried to disperse the weekly protest in #SheikhJarrah #SaveSheikhJarrah pic.twitter.com/NBrab2Ujru
— Oren Ziv (@OrenZiv1985) May 7, 2021
UN condemns evictions
The spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said the evictions, “if ordered and implemented, would violate Israel’s obligations under international law” on East Jerusalem territory it captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
“We call on Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions, including those in Sheikh Jarrah, and to cease any activity that would further contribute to a coercive environment and lead to a risk of forcible transfer,” spokesman Rupert Colville said.
Tens of thousands attend Friday prayers
Tens of thousands of Palestinian worshippers had earlier packed into the mosque on the final Friday of Ramadan and many stayed on to protest in support of Palestinians facing eviction from their homes on Israeli-occupied land claimed by Jewish settlers.
However, thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank were blocked from reaching the Al-Aqsa Mosque as Israeli forces set up several roadblocks and checkpoints along the way to the holy site.
Continuing tensions in the city at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were front and centre in the Friday sermon given by Sheikh Tayseer Abu Sunainah.