The Supreme Court in Israel postponed taking a controversial decision on whether Jewish settlers can forcibly expel Palestinians from their homes, after hundreds of Palestinians were injured in confrontations with police in some areas. The worst unrest in Jerusalem in years.
A former Israeli defense official described the air as like a powder keg ready to explode at any time, after more clashes broke out outside the Old City on Saturday night.
More than 120 people were injured, including a one-year-old child, and 14 were taken to hospital, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Israeli police said 17 officers were injured.
The violence came on Saturday night the following day More than 200 Palestinians were injured Violence around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.
Israel has faced mounting international criticism for its harsh police response and the planned evacuations. Last week, a United Nations human rights body Described Expulsion of Arabs from their homes as a possible war crime.
Regardless, the prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu He was defiant on Sunday, saying his country would continue building in the city – a reference to internationally condemned Jewish settlements in the predominantly Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. “We strongly reject the pressure not to build in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.
Tensions have escalated in Jerusalem in recent days before the now-delayed Israeli court ruling on whether authorities can evacuate dozens of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah and hand over their homes to Jewish settlers.
In East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, Palestinians feel an increasing threat from settlers who have sought to expand the Jewish presence there through home purchases, construction of new buildings, and court-ordered evictions, such as the Sheikh Jarrah case.
Nabil Al-Kurd, 77, whose family is facing the loss of their home, said the evictions were a racist attempt “to expel the Palestinians and replace them with settlers.”
Under Israeli law, Jews can establish a title from before the 1948 war that accompanied the creation of the state They can claim the restitution of their property in Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs were displaced in the same conflict, but there is no similar law for the Palestinians who lost their homes in the city.
“This is an attempt by the settlers, with the support of the government, to seize our homes by force,” Al-Kurd told the Guardian. “Enough is enough.”
On Sunday afternoon, in light of the tensions and following the request of the Attorney General, Avishai Mandelblit, the Supreme Court agreed to adjourn the hearing. She said it should take place within a month.
However, the gap may not be sufficient to end the crisis. To further aggravate the situation, Israelis celebrate Jerusalem Day on Monday, to mark the anniversary of the forces’ seizure of the entire city in 1967. Previous marches saw participants harassing Arab residents and knocking on closed doors as they descended through the Muslim Quarter.
Amos Gilad, a former head of Military Intelligence and a former Defense Ministry official, said the show should be canceled or re-routed. “The powder keg is burning and it could explode at any time,” he told Army Radio.
The Palestinians also complained about it Unfair restrictions For gatherings during the blessed month of Ramadan.
The police defended their actions after dispersing a protest in Sheikh Jarrah on Saturday night, when protesters threw rocks at security forces. Earlier, before Laylat al-Qadr, considered the holiest night of Ramadan, police blocked buses for pilgrims heading to Jerusalem to pray.
Palestinian medics said that two Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets, sound bombs and beating, among them a woman whose face was stained with blood.
Police Chief Kobi Shabtai said he had deployed more officers to Jerusalem after the clashes that took place on Friday night, which resulted in the injury of 18 policemen.
“The right to demonstrate will be respected, but public unrest will be met with force and intolerance,” Shabtai said.
On the Gaza border, forces fired tear gas at Palestinian protesters, where officials said that three incendiary balloons were launched towards Israel, causing fires but no injuries.
on Friday, Riot police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound After they said that the Palestinians threw stones and fireworks at the officers.
Nir Hasson, writer of the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz, Accused The Israeli authorities have taken a series of bad decisions over the past few weeks, “including the absolute freedom that was granted to the police in [Jerusalem’s] Streets where on Friday They acted as if they were sent to fuel the fires, not to extinguish them. “
“In the end, half of the capital of Israel is occupied, and 40% of its residents are non-citizens who consider Israel an oppressive foreign regime. The police and other authorities must realize this and work to restore calm,” he added.
Jerusalem has long been the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, with Jews and Muslims revere its holy sites.
old City The western wall It forms part of the holiest site in Judaism – the Temple Mount. It is also part of the Haram al-Sharif, with the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque above it.
Palestinians organized nightly protests in Sheikh Jarrah. An Israeli TV reporter tweeted a video of a Jewish driver whose car was attacked with rocks and shattered windows at the entrance to Sheikh Jarrah on Saturday.
The Islamic Hamas movement, which rules Gaza, urged the Palestinians to stay in Al-Aqsa until the end of Ramadan, saying: “The resistance is ready to defend Al-Aqsa at any cost.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the 85-year-old leader of the semi-independent Palestinian Authority, last month’s decision to postpone the planned elections added to the frustration of Palestinians, whose last parliamentary vote was held in 2006.
The Quartet of envoys from the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations expressed its deep concern over the violence. “We call on the Israeli authorities to exercise restraint,” they wrote. The United States said it was extremely concerned and urged both sides to “avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or distract us from peace.”
The European Union called on the authorities to “move urgently to calm the current tensions.” The Al Aqsa clashes sparked sharp criticism in the Arab and Islamic world, as Egypt, Bahrain, Turkey, Tunisia, Pakistan and Qatar criticized the Israeli forces for the confrontation.