The unrest in Jerusalem in recent weeks spread to Har Habayis on Friday evening, with hundreds of Arabs throwing chairs, rocks, bottles, and fireworks at police officers after prayers, the last Friday prayers of the month of Ramadan.
Riots also broke out at the same time at Sha’ar Shechem.
Seventeen Israel Police officers were injured, with about half evacuated to the hospital, including one officer who is in moderate condition after being hit in the face with a rock.
Police officers dispersed the rioters using stun grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas, and other methods. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 205 Arabs were injured, including 88 who were hospitalized, mostly from injuries from rubber bullets.
“We will not allow riots, violence and attempts to harm police officers through taking advantage of the freedom of worship and religion and turning it into a violent incident,” Israel Police stated. “We will respond with a heavy hand to all violent disturbances, riots and attacks on our forces.”
Earlier on Friday, riots also broke in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
There is fear of further violence on Motzei Shabbos, which is called Laylat a-Qadr, considered one of the most important nights of Ramadan, and on Sunday, which is Jerusalem Day.
Earlier Friday, thousands of Arabs gathered at Har Habayis for prayers, with some bearing Hamas flags and calling for attacks against Israel.
According to a Channel 13 News report, they chanted: “We are all Hamas. We’re waiting for your orders – Commander Mohammed Deif. Hamas – shoot a rock tonight at Tel Aviv.”
Israel Police believe that the violence on Har Habayis is being instigated by Hamas agents and may be connected to the postponement of elections in the Palestinian Authority by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Riots also took place in Arab towns and villages over the weekend in response to the riots in Jerusalem, with Arabs also blocking traffic on some major highways.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)