Land rights case sparks new east Jerusalem clashes

Brenda Watkins
May 9, 2021

According to the Times of Israel, citing Israeli TV, three Palestinian assailants booked a tour that included Jerusalem and were on their way to the city at the time of a "shootout" in which two gunmen were killed and one was "critically injured".

Israeli police on Saturday clashed with Palestinian protesters outside Jerusalem's Old City during the holiest night of Ramadan in a show of force that threatened to deepen the holy city's worst religious unrest in several years.

But in recent days, protests have grown over Israel's threatened eviction in Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem of dozens of Palestinians embroiled in a long legal battle with Israeli settlers trying to acquire property in the neighborhood.

"Egypt vehemently refuses any illegal practices and acts that target the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinians", Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.

The Quartet of Middle East negotiators - the U.S., the EU, Russia and the United Nations - on Saturday expressed "deep concern" over the spiralling violence.

On Friday, more than 200 Palestinians and at least 17 Israeli police were hurt in skirmishes near Al-Aqsa mosque, medics and police said. Islamic authorities estimated 90,000 people gathered for intense nighttime prayers at Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest site in Islam.

Clashes occurred between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the Old City on the holy site know to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

"Building and expanding settlements, confiscating lands, demolishing homes and deporting Palestinians from their homes are illegal practices that perpetuate the occupation and undermine the chances of achieving a just and comprehensive peace, which is a regional and global necessity", Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi tweeted.

The letter notes that "East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank, and under worldwide law, Israel is in military occupation of this territory, notwithstanding its illegal incorporation of East Jerusalem within the Jerusalem municipality and its subsequent illegal de jure annexation of East Jerusalem". The UAE expressed "strong condemnation" of Israel's storming of Al-Aqsa.

"Israel, the cruel terrorist state, attacks the Muslims in Jerusalem - whose only concern is to protect their homes... and their sacred values - in a savage manner devoid of ethics", Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

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He urged all countries, in particular Muslim countries, to react and called on the United Nations to "stop this persecution".

He said Turkey will "continue to stand by our Palestinian brothers and sisters under all circumstances".

The worldwide community, including the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Jordan, are calling for "calm" to maintain stability. We strongly condemn attacks against civilians.

"We call on both sides to refrain from any unilateral action and resume a credible and meaningful dialogue, to advance efforts for the two state solution and an end to the conflict".

The European Union called on local leaders "to act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions", saying "violence and incitement are unacceptable and the perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable".

The Palestinians view East Jerusalem - which includes major holy sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims - as their capital, and its fate is one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict.

On Friday, the United States urged all sides to act with restraint in Jerusalem, saying it was "critical" to restore calm amid several days of clashes in East Jerusalem.

In the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, 169 residents, including 46 children, from 12 different families have received eviction notices so their homes can be occupied illegally by Israeli settlers. "There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan".

Israel's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday pushing back on criticism of the pending evictions and accused the Palestinian Authority and terror organizations of fanning the tensions.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was acting responsibly to ensure law and order while maintaining freedom of worship.

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