Tensions in Jerusalem reached a frightening pitch and hundreds suffered injuries Monday as Israeli police and Palestinian protestors clashed at the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque, situated in a part of the city that has religious significance to both Muslims and Jews, as Fox News reported.
Police used stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets to thwart Palestinians throwing stones at the holy site in the latest conflagration of simmering tensions that many fear will provoke conflict on an even broader scale.
Fox News reported that over 300 Palestinians suffered injuries in the most recent confrontations, some of them serious, and 21 police officers sustained harm, with three of those requiring hospitalization. The unrest comes during the month of Ramadan, a time of particular importance to Muslims, and is emblematic of rising hostility in an area of Jerusalem viewed by both sides of the conflict as especially sacred.
Though the region always seems to be on the verge of renewed hostilities, the violence on Monday was reportedly driven by anticipation of a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court that may have resulted in the eviction of Palestinians from the long-contested neighborhood known as Sheikh Jarrah, as ABC News noted. The high court, however, postponed issuance of its decision in the matter Monday due to worsening violence.
Adding to concerns that the situation could spiral out of control were rocket attacks launched by Palestinians from Gaza since the weekend, which have in turn prompted Israel air strikes that have inflicted severe casualties in the embattled region.
According to reports, 24 people were killed in Gaza between Monday night and early Tuesday, with nine children among the dead. The toll of Palestinians injured over the course of 24 hours rose to exceed 700, and six Israelis were injured by the aforementioned rocket fire.
Though the international community has expressed alarm over the situation, and Biden administration National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan urged the Israeli government to “pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted a strong stance, saying that protecting the ability for all to worship at sacred sites”requires from time to time to stand up and stand strong as Israeli police and our security forces are doing now,” as Fox News noted.
Netanyahu spokesperson Ofir Gendelman alleged that “extremist Palestinians planned well in advance to carry out riots” at the Al-Aqsa complex, and he posted photos of wooden barricades and piles of stones amassed within the compound for that purpose.
Though President Joe Biden has thus far appeared hesitant to enter the fray and intervene in the endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict, increasing calls for action coming from members of the far-left flank of his party including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (R-NY) may force him to pick a side sooner rather than later.