Israeli Border Police clash with Palestinians in Jerusalem

Palestinian scouts play music during celebrations marking the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem (AP)

Soraya Ebrahimi

The National  /  October 20, 2021

Violence after Palestinians gathered to celebrate Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.

Israeli Border Police clashed with Palestinians at a popular gathering place just outside Jerusalem’s Old City as thousands celebrated the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.

The clashes were a repeat of violence this year that eventually led to the 11-day Gaza war in May.

Palestinians say Israeli police moved to restrict the annual gathering in and around Damascus Gate in what they saw as a provocation.

A few dozen youths began shouting at police and throwing water bottles, after which police fired stun grenades, AP reported

Israeli police said Palestinians hurled rocks at officers and public buses near the Damascus Gate leading to the Old City. They said 22 were arrested.

Earlier, thousands of Palestinians had marched along the Old City walls and paused at the gate, where a scout band played the Palestinian national anthem.

They continued to Al-Aqsa Mosque, where tens of thousands prayed in honour of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said it treated 17 people who were wounded, including 10 who were taken to hospital.

Palestinians clashed with Israeli police on a nightly basis during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in April and May over a decision to place police barricades at Damascus Gate, a popular holiday gathering spot for families.

The clashes continued even after the barricades were removed, and eventually spread to nearby Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a site sacred to Muslims and Jews.

The violence, along with efforts by settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families from their homes, eventually ignited the war between Israel and the militant Hamas group, which rules Gaza.

The Old City is in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.