Clashes hit Al-Aqsa amid outrage over provocative Israeli flag march

Clashes hit Al-Aqsa amid outrage over provocative Israeli flag march
Protesters lift Palestine’s flag during a rally in support of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque in Lebanon’s southern city of Sidon on May 29, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 29 May 2022

Clashes hit Al-Aqsa amid outrage over provocative Israeli flag march

Clashes hit Al-Aqsa amid outrage over provocative Israeli flag march
  • Palestinian factions have warned that the flag-waving parade through the city’s Muslim quarter could re-ignite their decades-old conflict
  • 137 Palestinian protesters injured, 25,000 settlers join parade in show of force

RAMALLAH: Thousands of Israeli nationalists, some of them chanting “Death to Arabs,” paraded through the heart of the main Palestinian thoroughfare in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, in a show of force that risked setting off a new wave of violence in the tense city.

More than 3,000 police officers were deployed across occupied Jerusalem, reporting more than 20 arrests over “disorderly conduct.”

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 137 Palestinians were injured by Israeli armed forces — 11 of them by live ammunition — during violent clashes in Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, Hebron and Jericho during protests against the march.

Ahead of the event, police said that 2,600 Jews toured Al-Aqsa esplanade, a record number for a single day.

Some of the visitors wore religious garb and prostrated themselves. A few held up Israeli flags and sang the national anthem. The preacher of the mosque, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, denounced their behavior.

“What happened today at Al-Aqsa has never happened since 1967, and the Israeli occupation should remember that Al-Aqsa Mosque is not a field to test reactions,” he said, accusing the government of deliberately looking to escalate tensions.

Police earlier fired stun grenades at Palestinians who pelted them with stones in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as record numbers of Jews visited the holy site, some of them appearing to pray in defiance of a longstanding ban.

Israeli political and security determination to support the parade has angered Palestinians.

There was widespread Palestinian condemnation of the passage of the provocative march in the neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem.

About 25,000 Israeli settlers took part in the march and the Israeli police boosted its forces in East Jerusalem from the early hours of Sunday.

Police launched a preventive arrest campaign among Palestinians in East Jerusalem — a few hours before the launch of the march — and prevented Palestinian males under the age of 50 from entering the mosque.

Firas Al-Jibreni, a lawyer for the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, reported more than 22 detainees from Jerusalem and its surroundings on Sunday.

Israeli police surveillance UAVs roamed the East Jerusalem skies, especially over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while the Israeli army deployed the Iron Dome rocket interceptor system.

More than 800 settlers raided Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday, including Israeli right-wing extremist MP Itamar Ben-Gvir, under tight security protection of the Israeli forces.