Palestinian terrorist groups threatened Israel on Friday evening after violent clashes between police and Palestinian believers in the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh said Israel will « pay a price » for the clashes in the mosque, one of the holiest places in Islam. The hill on which it lies is the most sacred place in the world for Jews as the location of the two biblical temples – making it a focal point for nationalist sentiments and violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
« We say [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu: Don’t play with fire. This is a battle you cannot win. Israeli arrogance and tyranny are being smashed on the stones of Al-Aqsa Mosque, » Haniyeh said .
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Israeli police broke into the Al-Aqsa compound on Friday evening after Palestinians threw stones and bottles at officers after widespread clashes in Jerusalem after prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan the holy place.
The video of the scene showed fierce battles in which Palestinians threw chairs, shoes, stones and bottles and fired fireworks. The police responded with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets.
According to the police, 17 police officers were injured and about half of them were hospitalized. One of them was in moderate condition after putting a stone in the head. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 205 Palestinians were wounded in clashes across Jerusalem, mainly around the Temple Mount and the Damascus Gate. Eighty-eight Palestinians were hospitalized mainly for injuries with rubber-coated steel balls.
« The enemy is acting foolishly in Jerusalem and does not know what the results will be, » added Haniyeh.
On official Palestinian Authority television, PA President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for what he viewed as « vicious aggression » on the Al-Aqsa grounds.
« We hold the Israeli occupation government absolutely responsible for what can happen in the holy city in terms of dangerous developments, malicious aggression and what may result from it, » said Abbas.
« The ruthlessness of the settlers only increases our insistence on asserting our legitimate rights: ending the occupation, achieving independence and freedom, and establishing our sovereign, independent Palestinian state with its eternal capital Jerusalem, » added Abbas added.
Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group that frequently fires rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, also threatened Israel because of the Al-Aqsa clashes.
« What is happening in Jerusalem this evening cannot pass idly. The enemy can count on our reaction at any time, ”said the head of Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhaleh.
After Israel conquered East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, it granted the Waqf, which is financed and controlled by the Jordanian government , continues to have almost complete control over the area of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israeli security forces are present on the mountain and work in coordination with the Waqf. Jews are allowed to visit the site, but unlike Muslims, they are strict Forbidden to pray on the premises.
In a statement on Friday, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry asked Israel to withdraw its forces from the Temple Mount immediately.
Ka tar, a chief patron of the Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip, also condemned what it called an « invasion » of the Israeli forces in the Al-Aqsa mosque.
« This is a provocation for the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world, « the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In recent weeks, tensions have increased in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israeli yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta was shot dead in a Palestinian terrorist attack in the West Bank earlier this week. He died of his wounds on Wednesday evening.
A 16-year-old Palestinian teenager, Said Odeh, was shot dead by Israeli forces near Nablus on Wednesday evening, Palestinian health officials said. According to the Israeli military, Odeh threw Molotov cocktails at troops.
On the previous Friday, three Palestinian armed men opened fire on border police troops in the northern West Bank. Two of them were killed in the firefight and a third seriously injured. Israeli military officials said the three were on their way to carry out a « major » terrorist attack on civilians in Israel.
At the beginning of Ramadan, Palestinians repeatedly clashed with Israeli police in Jerusalem to protest restrictions in the Damascus Gate area. Some videos were also broadcast on Palestinian social media showing young Arab men attacking ultra-Orthodox passers-by.
In response, hundreds of Jewish extremists marched through downtown Jerusalem chanting « Death to the Arabs ». Others accidentally attacked Palestinians across the city. This then led to serious clashes between police, Jews and Arabs in the city.
In the past few days, Palestinians have held demonstrations in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Over 70 Palestinian residents are threatened with eviction and could be replaced by right-wing Jewish nationalists in a lawsuit in court.
On Wednesday a spokesman for the armed wing of Islamic Jihad called on the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank to counter the attacks Israelis to repeat.
« Rebel against the Zionists, renew the pile-driving operations and stab checkpoints and shoot without hesitation in any place where the soldiers and settlers are present, » said Abu Hamza, a spokesman the Al-Quds Brigades of the terror group.
The United Nations on Friday called on Israel to call off all pending evictions in East Jerusalem and warned that its actions could constitute « war crimes ». Israel dismissed the tension as a « real estate dispute ».
Abbas and Haniyeh both mentioned the planned eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, as the main cause of the escalating tensions.
An Israeli court has The families were ordered to leave as the property belonged to a Jewish religious association prior to 1948. An Israeli law of 1970 allows Jews to reclaim property in East Jerusalem before it fell into Jordanian hands. There is no similar law for Palestinians.
Palestinians and their supporters have protested the impending evictions every night for the past week. Police tried to disperse the protests with sonic grenades and water cannons, resulting in injuries and arrests.
The families have asked the Israeli Supreme Court to consider an appeal due Monday.
It Fears grow that tensions in Jerusalem could escalate on Sunday evening, Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Worshipers will gather for night prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sunday evening also marks the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday when Israel celebrates the unification of Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other festivals in the city.
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