Violence broke out again on Monday at Al-Aqsa Mosque as Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police squared off on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, sending at least 206 people – 205 Palestinian protesters and one Israeli police officer – to local hospitals for treatment. An additional 100 demonstrators and eight police officers were less seriously hurt. After hours of clashes between rock-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces who fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets, calm was restored and the Israeli forces withdrew from the large, ancient compound, which is considered Judaism’s holiest and Islam’s third holiest site. Israel has weathered widespread criticism for its handling of Palestinian protests during the holy month of Ramadan, with friends expressing “serious concern” and foes harshly condemning it. Multiple sparks lit the tinderbox that is Israel’s capital in this round of unrest. Among them: a trend on TikTok and other social media platforms showing Palestinian youth harassing and assaulting ultra-Orthodox Jews; protests by the far-right Jewish Lehava organization that included shouts of “death to Arabs”; the positioning of barriers by Israeli police around the steps leading to Damascus Gate, a popular site for night-time gatherings of Muslim youth during Ramadan; the cancellation of Palestinian Authority elections, ostensibly over Israel’s refusal to allow polling stations in Jerusalem; escalating rocket fire, incendiary balloon attacks, and other violence on the Israel-Gaza border; an impending decision on property in east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood that is heavily contested between longtime Arab residents and Jews who claim ownership of the land; and a rare alignment of the Islamic, Hebrew and Gregorian calendars that brought Ramadan, Jerusalem Day, and Nakba Day into close proximity.
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