Violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters Friday left three people dead and more than 190 wounded in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Thousands of Palestinian protesters marched in Jerusalem in defiance of Israel’s installation of metal detectors at the al-Aqsa mosque, or Temple Mount, compound. Israel installed the detectors after three terrorists shot three Israeli police officers, killing two.
Palestinian religious leaders and the terrorist group Hamas called for a “Day of Rage” in response to the new security measures. Israeli security forces and emergency personnel prepared for the protests by setting up barricades and deploying additional security forces. Thousands of Palestinians gathered outside the mosque compound Friday, refusing to pass through the new metal detectors.
Demonstrations had been ongoing earlier this week, and were relatively calm until late Thursday.
The Israeli army claimed approximately 3,000 Palestinians participated in the protests across the West Bank the following day. Clashes between protesters and police occurred just after noon prayer in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday. Smaller clashes took place on Thursday, leaving approximately 22 injured. Protesters reportedly threw stones and glass at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades.
Protesters reportedly engaged in chants such “with blood and spirit we’ll redeem al-Aqsa,” according to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.
The Trump administration expressed its concern over the Temple Mount crisis on Wednesday.
“The United States is very concerned about tensions surrounding the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, a site holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and calls upon the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to make a good faith effort to reduce tensions and to find a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site and maintains the status quo,” said newly-stepped down White House press secretary Sean Spicer in a statement. “The United States will continue to closely monitor the developments.”
The Temple Mount compound and other Islamic religious areas in Jerusalem are staffed by members of the Jordanian Waqf Islamic Trust. It instructed Islamic imams in Jerusalem to deliver sermons at al-Aqsa instead of mosques around the city and told worshipers not to pass through the new metal detectors.
The scene has some observers worried about that a new “intifada” could occur. An intifada, Arabic for tremor or shuddering, has come to be associated with Palestinian uprisings. The first Palestinian intifada lasted from December 1987 to September 1993, leaving more than 1,900 Palestinians and approximately 270 Israelis dead. The second intifada began in September 2000 and lasted until February 2005. It began with protests and demonstrations before escalating to violence, including suicide bombings and gunfights. Approximately 1,000 Israelis and 3,300 died as a result.
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