New clashes erupted on Friday, May 21 between Palestinians and Israeli police on the Mosque Esplanade in occupied East Jerusalem, two weeks after similar clashes that led to an outbreak of violence in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza.
Calm had returned to the esplanade at the end of the afternoon. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, twenty people were injured in the clashes, two of whom were hospitalized.
The clashes began after the great Muslim Friday prayer, which was attended by a crowd of Palestinians, some of whom chanted slogans in favor of the Islamist movement Hamas in power in the Gaza Strip, according to journalists from Agence France- Press (AFP).
According to the Israeli authorities, projectiles were launched in the direction of the Israeli police officers present in the square of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site of Islam. “Hundreds of people threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police officers, who retaliated”Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement. Police, deployed at the entrances to the esplanade on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, fired stun grenades and rubber bullets, as tension remained high in the afternoon.
Cease-fire in Gaza
On May 7, clashes broke out on the esplanade, amid tensions triggered by threats of eviction of Palestinian families for the benefit of Israeli settlers in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, an occupied Palestinian sector annexed by Israel.
The violence in East Jerusalem then escalated into military escalation between the IDF and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip, clashes in the occupied West Bank and in mixed towns in Israel where both Jews and Arabs live.
On the night of Thursday to Friday, Israel and Hamas announced a ceasefire, after eleven days of clashes that left 243 Palestinians dead and 12 dead in Israel. Thousands of Palestinians celebrated the announcement overnight in Gaza, as well as in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Taking advantage of the halt in the shelling, residents went out to inspect the damage in Gaza, where many homes were devastated and towers flattened by Israeli strikes. Rescuers are still searching the rubble for survivors, after removing five bodies and a dozen survivors from underground tunnels bombarded by the Israeli army.