Israel police arrest 8 in third night of Jerusalem unrest

Israeli Border Police officers detain a Palestinian during clashes near the Damascus Gate, outside the Old City of Jerusalem (Mahmoud Illean - AP)

AP  /  April 4, 2022

JERUSALEM — Israeli police arrested several Palestinians accused of throwing rocks and other objects at officers outside the contested Old City of Jerusalem on Monday as tensions flared during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Police said officers arrested eight people suspected of throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at officers during Ramadan revelries outside the Damascus Gate. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Police said in a statement that “most of the people at the scene were not actively participating in these disturbances.” Video footage from the scene showed officers being pelted by water bottles and other objects and detaining suspects.

It was the third consecutive night of unrest outside the Old City, a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

On Sunday, Palestinian youths and Israeli police scuffled outside the Damascus Gate, a central gathering place in the heart of historic Jerusalem. Police said officers arrested 10 people suspected of attacking officers while the area was packed with hundreds of revellers after the day’s fast. Several people suffered minor injuries, paramedics said.

Israeli police are on high alert after three deadly attacks by Palestinians in Israel in recent weeks that killed 11 Israelis. An Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank last week in search of a gunman’s suspected accomplices set off a gunbattle in which two Palestinians were killed and 15 were wounded.

On Saturday, Israeli police said its officers killed three Palestinian militants who were involved in recent attacks on Israeli forces and were planning another.

Israeli authorities have sought to avoid a repeat of last year’s violence during the month-long Muslim holiday. Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian leaders have held a flurry of meetings in recent weeks, and Israel has announced a series of goodwill gestures, in an effort to maintain calm during Ramadan.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police around the historic Old City, the emotional epicenter of the more than century-long conflict, during Ramadan last year helped precipitate the 11-day war between Israel and the Islamist militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip in May.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with its holy sites to the three monotheistic faiths, in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed it in a move unrecognized by most of the international community. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as capital of a future state that would include the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel considers the city its united capital.