Violence has erupted for the second Friday in a row at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque which sits atop Temple Mount. At least 42 Palestinians have been reported injured after severe clashes with Israeli police, after reports of youths hurling rocks and fireworks at Jewish worshippers gathered at the Western Wall below.
Tensions were already high throughout this month given the overlap of Ramadan and the Jewish celebration of Passover this year, which meant huge throngs of Jews and Muslims converging on the walled old city at the same time.
Israeli media says at least 160,000 people attended Friday's Ramadan prayer at al-Aqsa, which is considered Islam's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina.
Haaretz writes of the fresh violence that "Hundreds of young Palestinians fired fireworks and threw rocks within the compound, with some also hurling rocks towards the Western Wall and Mughrabi Bridge. One fell in the Western Wall plaza, though no one was reported injured."
Israeli police responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets, and following this, "The rioters reportedly barricaded themselves in the mosque, leading police to try to break down the doors. Police said they arrested two people, and that the riots simmered down ahead of the midday prayers."
Clashes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between Palestinians hurling stones and police officers.pic.twitter.com/qXAsBjAvXe— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) April 22, 2022
Tensions and anger were already on edge following last week's entry of Israeli police into Aqsa, where they tackled and arrested Muslim worshippers following clashes on the outside square. Israeli police said in a statement: "We will continue to act decisively against rioters and outlaws for public safety and security."
The past week has witnessed scenes like the below, where Israeli police deliver tear gas canisters via small drones over Palestinian crowds:
Israel dropped tear gas using same drones I’d witnessed being used against protesters in Gaza in 2019. I saw the drone above Al Aqsa compound & recognised it immediately. Someone caught it on camera. It’s the first time tear gas drones have been used in Al Aqsa. (Credit unknown) pic.twitter.com/2zpNJkfuZY— Hind Hassan (@HindHassanNews) April 22, 2022
Due to Ramadan and the infux of Muslim pilgrims into the tight corridors of the old city, Israel has reportedly deployed thousands of additional officers to monitor activities.
Last weekend also included tens of thousands of more people present due to Orthodox Christian Easter. Controversy erupted after Israeli authorities said they would severely restrict numbers of visitors to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the days leading up to it, which reportedly prevented thousands of Palestinian Christians from accessing celebrations.