By Alisa Odenheimer
May 10, 2021, 9:32 AM – Updated on May 10, 2021, 10:44 AM
Word Count: 515
Palestinians hurled rocks, other heavy objects and firecrackers from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is Islam’s third-holiest site and the location of Judaism’s biblical temple. Israeli police stormed the mount, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets. The Associated Press, citing Palestinian medics, reported that 50 Palestinians were hospitalized.
Spillover violence persisted from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, where militants launched rockets and flaming balloons into southern Israel, setting fires but causing no injuries.
The potential for escalation is high because on Monday Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day, marking its capture of the city’s eastern sector from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. The day is traditionally a fraught one as a parade by Jewish nationalists cuts through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, in a display of Israeli hegemony that Palestinians deplore.
Israeli officials have allowed the parade to go ahead, but in an effort to de-escalate tensions, police have barred Jewish visitors from the hilltop compound where Monday’s violence broke out. The site — the most contested piece of land in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram-as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary.
Israel’s Army Radio reported that several dozen Jews tried to force their way onto the mount.
The holy city has been seething with its worst unrest in years since the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan more than three weeks ago. Israeli restrictions on gathering at a traditional Ramadan meeting place outside the Old City touched off the tensions, but after they were lifted, protests were rekindled by the threatened evictions of Palestinians from longtime homes in the eastern sector of the city.
Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their longed-for state.
On Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke by phone with his Israeli counterpart to express “serious concerns” about the “violent confrontations.” He also reiterated U.S. concerns about the potential evictions.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement voicing similar sentiments, and the Arab League has scheduled a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation.
The violence is exploding at a time when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rivals are trying to piece together a government after the fourth election in two years.
“We would like to see things calm down and go back to normalcy,” Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
While Israel’s economy is equipped to deal with the coronavirus crisis in the short run, “a new government, a stable government, is needed to deal with the many economic issues Israel has faced even before going into the crisis,” such as the need for infrastructure investments and less red tape, he said.
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