Palestinians, Jewish Activists Skirmish in East Jerusalem in Worst Clashes in Days amid Ramadan Tensions

Palestinians, Jewish Activists Skirmish in East Jerusalem in Worst Clashes in Days amid Ramadan Tensions

Clashes among Palestinians, Jews, and Israeli riot police erupted at the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem the night of April 22, 2021. Photo: Video grab from BBC News

More than 100 people, including dozens of police officers, have been injured in the worst clashes in East Jerusalem in the days since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as rallies of Palestinian protesters and far-right Jewish activists skirmished with Israeli riot police and with one another.

The clashes in East Jerusalem on Thursday night erupted when the Israeli police tried to keep rival rallies of Palestinians and Israelis away from each other, BBC News reported.

The disputed East Jerusalem, a focal point of the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, has been under Israel’s control since the 1967 Six-Day War.

East Jerusalem includes the historic Old City of Jerusalem, and some of the holiest sites of three of the world’s largest religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. These include the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Israel considers the entire city of Jerusalem, the historic East Jerusalem included, as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independence state that they hope to establish based on the autonomous Palestinian Authority.

Most of the international community still considers East Jerusalem to be under Israeli occupation, and does recognize Israel’s claim of it as its capital.

In December 2017, then US President Donald Trump gave major support to the Israeli claim by recognizing the entirety of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, and by ordering the US Embassy to Israel to move there from Tel Aviv.

The last Israeli-Palestinian clashes in East Jerusalem occurred against the backdrop of rising religious and nationalist tensions since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on April 13, 2021.

The worst fighting erupted on Thursday night after hundreds of far-right Jewish activists from the ultra-nationalist Lehava group marched towards a rally of Palestinians at the Damascus Gate entrance of Jerusalem’s Old City chanting “Death to Arabs”.

The two rallies exchanged “fire” by throwing bottles and rocks at each other, with the Israeli riot police intervening with a water cannon, tear gas, and stun grenades.

More than 50 people were arrested for the clashes. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 100 Palestinians were injured. The Israeli police said 20 officers had been hurt.

Palestinian protesters had already clashed with the riot police in recent days over the erecting of police barriers preventing them gathering on the outside East Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate to break the daytime fast of Ramadan.

The Israeli police have said the barriers are placed to enable pedestrian flow into the Old City of East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, a spate of TikTok videos of Palestinians assaulting members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community have infuriated local Israelis. The incidents included an attack on two ultra-Orthodox boys on Jerusalem’s light rail.

Lehava said its rally to the Damascus Gate was caused by the TikTok videos, and called its march there a show of “national honor”.

Earlier this week, a number of attacks by Jews on Arabs also occurred in Jerusalem. In one incident, Jewish youth chanting anti-Arab slogans assaulted an Arab driver after a verbal exchange.

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Ivan Dikov, the founder of HeartlandHinterland.com, is the author of the book “6 Million Abortions: How Communism Utilized Mass-Scale Abortion Exterminating Europe’s Fastest Growing Nation“, among other books.