After tens of thousands of ‘worshippers’ gathered in the Esplanade of the Mosques on Friday evening, clashes broke out between Palestinians and the Israeli police, leaving 200 wounded. The next day, new clashes left more than 50 people injured in different parts of East Jerusalem. According to the Red Crescent, most of the injured, including under-age people, were hit by rubber bullets or stun grenades.
In this regard, the spokesperson of the European Union delegation in Israel issued a statement saying that “the EU calls upon Israeli authorities to exercise restraint and to avoid measures that would further escalate the situation during this period of Muslim Holy Days.” The EU also called on Israel to act “urgently” to de-escalate the tension.
This new escalation of violence comes in a particularly tense context after the postponement of the first Palestinian elections in 15 years. A postponement decided by the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who explained that the election could not take place without the guarantee of the participation of Palestinians in Occupied Jerusalem, where Israel has refused to open polling stations for the 300,000 Palestinians there.
The situation in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah has also raised tensions, with several Palestinian families facing forced expulsion from their homes in a legal fight that has been going on for more than 10 years. While the Israeli Supreme Court’s verdict is expected to come out in the next few days, Israeli law stipulates that Jewish citizens who can prove that their ancestors lived in East Jerusalem before the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, can claim their property back.