Dozens of people have been arrested following an outbreak of violence in East Jerusalem, as Israeli police tried to disperse supporters of far-right Jewish groups, who marched to the Old city, and Palestinians gathered at the Damascus Gate.
Police set up barricades and used tear gas, stun grenades, water cannons, and horse-mounted officers to prevent the hundreds gathered on both sides from reaching each other. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 105 Palestinians were hurt in the clashes.
Members of Lehava, the far-right ultra-conservative Jewish group, marched from the west of the city chanting "Death to Arabs." Tensions have been particularly high in the last week following a series of videos circulated on TikTok showing Palestinians randomly attacking orthodox Jews, and assaults on Arabs by Israelis.
The Israeli police reported that during last night's chaos, 20 officers were hurt, and more than 50 people were arrested.
The city of Jerusalem in general and the area near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, have recently witnessed skirmishes between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces due to recent attempts to restrict annual Ramadan gatherings and activities, and barricades put in the city centre.
The crowds of Palestinians and far-right Jewish supporters clashed with police several hundred metres apart. Arab demonstrators used firecrackers and set rubbish bins on fire, and the ultra-nationalist Jewish groups chanted anti-Arab slogans, and threw stones and bottles. Windows of parked cars and homes nearby were smashed in the process.
The US embassy expressed its concern over the rise of violence: "We hope all responsible voices will promote an end to incitement, a return to calm, and respect for the safety and dignity of everyone in Jerusalem," a statement said.
Moshe Lion, the right-wing Mayor of Jerusalem, told Israeli public radio he has asked the police to stop the extremist group rallies, but he was told the demonstrations were "legal." He called on both sides to stop what he called "the pointless violence.”
Palestinian authorities voiced their concern over the growing violence from the far-right groups, called the international community to intervene. "East Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine and is a red line," a statement said.