Middle East Conflict
Violence on Temple Mount, rockets from Gaza and counterattack
Israeli police clash with Palestinian believers in Jerusalem. A few hours later, rockets fly out of the Gaza Strip – Israel responds with a counterattack.
Jerusalem. Confrontations on the Temple Mount (Al-Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem have raised concerns of further escalation in the Middle East. On Wednesday night, Israeli security forces clashed with dozens of Palestinians on the grounds of the Temple Mount. According to the police, around 350 people were arrested.
They had barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and set off firecrackers and threw stones, a spokeswoman said in the morning. Police reportedly used tear gas, batons and flashbangs to evacuate the mosque.
According to the Red Crescent Ambulance Service, around 40 Palestinians were injured by police beatings and rubber bullets. They suffered bruises all over their bodies. According to the information, two of them had to be treated in hospital. A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the move. He warned against “crossing the red lines at holy sites,” the Wafa news agency reported. This could lead to a “big explosion”. Criticism also came from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip
The US government was “extremely concerned about the ongoing violence”. UN envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “appalled at the images of violence”. The beatings against Palestinians and the high number of arrests are “worrying”. Nevertheless, he condemned the use of stones and fireworks against the emergency services. “Leaders on all sides must act responsibly and refrain from taking steps that could escalate tensions,” he said. The federal government also called for de-escalation. Everyone who has an influence on the situation is responsible “that no more fuel is poured on the fire,” said a spokesman for the Federal Foreign Office. According to police, it remained quiet during the day in Jerusalem.
In response, radical Palestinians from the Gaza Strip fired at least ten rockets into Israeli territory during the night. According to the military, five of them were intercepted, four landed in an open area and one near a factory in the Israeli city of Sderot. In the early morning, Israel then attacked several targets in the coastal strip. Among them were a military compound and a military post of the armed wing of the ruling Hamas there. “The bombing will not intimidate us,” said a spokesman for the Palestinian organization. Gaza will continue to support the people of Jerusalem and the West Bank “by all means”.
Israel’s far-right police minister is threatening
An army spokesman said the military was “on high alert in all areas.” An attack from Gaza will be reacted to decisively. “We are not interested in an escalation, but we are prepared for any scenario.” The far-right Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir praised the actions of the security forces in Jerusalem and called for tougher action against attacks from Gaza: “Hamas rockets require a response , which goes beyond bombing dunes and uninhabited places,” he wrote on Twitter.
Violent confrontations have repeatedly occurred in the area around the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in recent years. In 2021, the situation escalated into an 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. But it is also sacred to Jews because there used to be two Jewish temples there.
Before the start of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, there were fears that the already tense security situation in the country would deteriorate. A particularly large number of Muslims are currently coming to the Temple Mount to pray there during the month of fasting. The week-long Jewish Passover festival also began on Wednesday. One of the customs is a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The security situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories has long been extremely tense. Since the beginning of the year, 14 Israelis and one Ukrainian have been killed in connection with Palestinian attacks. In the same period, 91 Palestinians lost their lives – they were shot in confrontations with the Israeli army or after their own attacks.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there today. The Palestinians claim the territories for an independent state of Palestine with the Arab-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital.
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