Israeli forces continue crackdown on Jerusalem Ramadan gatherings
Clashes erupted overnight on Friday in Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli police, marking the latest in a series of confrontations over increased Israeli restrictions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Crowds gathered outside Damascus Gate, one of eight gates leading into the walled Old City, chanting “the people of Mohammad will not bow,” videos posted to social media showed.
Israeli police erected barricades in the area on 13 April - which marked the first day of Ramadan - and forcibly dispersed anyone attempting to sit on the steps. Palestinians customarily gather at the gate after breaking fast and praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
The metal fences were removed last week after two weeks of popular protests. The move prompted singing and dancing, along with the waving of the Palestinian flags.
Confrontations, however, have been ongoing. Palestinian media reported that two men from East Jerusalem were arrested and that the Al-Aqsa yards were stormed.
Israel routinely curbs access to the mosque but has increased restrictions during Ramadan, sparking tensions with Palestinians attempting to access the mosque.
Videos posted on social media on Friday showed Israeli officers violently apprehending Palestinian youths. Israeli police have blamed the arrests on Palestinians hurling stones and fireworks and attacking officers.
Tensions have also been stoked by far-right Israelis. Last week, a mob harassed Palestinians and chanted "death to Arabs", prompting clashes that resulted in at least 105 wounded and 20 hospitalised. Israeli police said 20 officers had been injured.
East Jerusalem and the West Bank have been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Israeli authorities annexed East Jerusalem shortly afterwards, evicting Palestinians from their homes in contravention of international law.