More than 900 Palestinians injured in clashes over al-Aqsa compound

Palestinians praying outside al-Aqsa compound gates, in front of the Israeli policemen forbidding the entry. Palestinians praying outside al-Aqsa compound gates, in front of the Israeli policemen forbidding the entry. RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

9 August 2017
Palestinian hospitals are overcrowded due to mounting tensions in Old Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

On 14th July, 2017, a gun battle in the al-Aqsa compound resulted in the deaths of  two Israeli police officers and three Palestinians attackers. Israel responded  by closing the compound for the Friday prayers and re-opening it three days later with new security measures as metal detectors and surveillance cameras. Palestinians refused to enter the compound with the new security systems which they considered a tool for  Israeli forces to extend their control.

On 21st July, thousands of Palestinians prayed outside the gates. After peaceful demonstrations were violently suppressed by the Israeli police, the increased tension and subsequent clashes resulted in more than 900 injured Palestinians and four deaths. The Israeli police have  been criticised for using rubber-coated steel bullets and grenades. Palestinian hospitals, already overcrowded, now fear a drastic increase in the number of injured civilians if the clashes do not cease.

The al-Aqsa mosque is located in the old city of East Jerusalem, which has been the most contested territory in the Holy Land since Israel occupied it in 1967. The agreement between Israel and Jordan over the compound’s administration  stated that the Islamic trust has control on matters inside the compound, whilst Israel is in charge of external security. Despite that, Israel has tried to control the area over the years. In 2000, they built a wall around it, and they increased the number of restrictions to enter the compound.

The tension does not seem to be abating with the new security measures. The Mufti of Jerusalem is demanding a complete return to procedures that were in place before the initial attack, and the Palestinian President Abbas, froze contacts with Israel while looking for the support of the International Community.


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