On Friday, at least 160 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque complex, extending a recent spike in violence that has raised fears of a return to broader conflict.
Over the past two weeks, Israel’s security forces have been on high alert in response to a series of deadly street attacks by Arabs throughout the country. There is a risk of sliding back into a broader conflict like the Gaza war last year if clashes break out at Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
The Al-Aqsa compound lies atop the Old City plateau of East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967. Muslims know it as al-Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
According to the Palestine Red Crescent, most Palestinian injuries were caused by rubber bullets, stun grenades, and police batons at the most sensitive site in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Online videos show Palestinian worshippers barricading themselves inside the mosque amid clouds of tear gas.
The timing of Ramazan with the Jewish holiday of Passover this year has heightened tensions.
The last Ramazan clashes between Israelis and Palestinians took place during Ramazan. Israeli raids at Al-Aqsa and the threat of Palestinian displacement in East Jerusalem triggered an 11-day Israel-Gaza war that claimed the lives of more than 250 Palestinians in Gaza and 13 Israelis.