JERUSALEM: Nightly clashes and other violent incidents between Palestinians and Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem during Ramadan have laid bare simmering tensions in the holy city.
Over 100 Palestinians were wounded in overnight clashes with Israeli police, medics said Friday, the largest such incident since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan 10 days ago.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had treated at least 105 people, with some 20 of them hospitalised.
Israeli police said 20 officers were wounded, three of whom were taken to hospital.
Clashes erupted amid a dispute over evening gatherings at Damascus Gate after iftar, the breaking of the daytime fast during the Muslim holy month.
Meanwhile, a video on social media app TikTok purporting to show a Palestinian slapping an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man on Jerusalem’s light rail train has drawn protests by Israelis and calls by some right-wing politicians for tougher police action.
The incidents, which followed the start of Ramadan on April 13, has broken a sustained period of relative quiet in a contested city at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians say police have tried to prevent them from holding their usual Ramadan evening gatherings outside Damascus Gate, a historic landmark on the north side of Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
Israeli police have fired stun grenades and sprayed foul-smelling skunk water to disperse the Palestinians, who in turn have discharged fireworks towards them.
“Palestinians love to relax in this area after evening prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque, but the occupation (Israel) doesn’t like it. It’s a matter of sovereignty,” said Jerusalem resident Mohammad Abu Al Homus, pointing to metal barricades thrown up by police in the area outside Damascus Gate in recent weeks.
The measure, according to Israeli police, is part of its efforts to ensure that tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers have safe access to the main Islamic prayer site in the Old City, known as the Noble Sanctuary .
“Since Damascus Gate is the main way to reach and enter the Old City, police forces carry out field activities using various means to prevent friction, violence and confrontation, and to maintain order and security in the area,” said a police spokesman.
He also said they will “act firmly against violence and riots of all kinds” to preserve public safety.