Palestinians and Arab Israelis across the country held demonstrations on Sunday night against Israeli policies in Jerusalem, with fierce clashes continuing in the holy city. At least 25 people were wounded and 23 people arrested.
The latest violence comes a day before a contentious Jerusalem Day march was set to go ahead, despite reported warnings from security officials that the event could lead to a further major escalation in violence.
Clashes broke out again between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on Sunday night, which has emerged as a flashpoint due to the pending eviction of several dozen Palestinian residents in favor of right-wing Jewish nationalists.
Police used water cannons spewing foul-smelling “skunk” water and mounted officers against demonstrators, who reportedly burned a car belonging to Jewish residents and shot fireworks at local Jewish homes.
In videos circulating on social media, Palestinians could also be seen throwing stones and bottles at police near the Old City’s Damascus Gate. Police fired numerous stun grenades and deployed “skunk” water cannons in an attempt to disperse Palestinians on the scene.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that 19 Palestinians were wounded in clashes across Jerusalem on Sunday night, including one of their medics, who was hit with a rubber-tipped metal bullet; five of them were hospitalized.
Earlier on Sunday, three police officers and three Jewish Israelis were wounded in clashes near Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. The Shaare Zedek Medical Center said the three civilians were treated for light injuries sustained by stone-throwing.
Also Sunday, thousands of Arab Israelis demonstrated in the northern cities of Haifa, Nazareth, Shfaram and Tira. The protesters blocked main roads and, in Nazareth, set trash cans ablaze in the middle of the street.
In Haifa, hundreds of demonstrators marched through the city’s main thoroughfare to the city’s German Colony neighborhood.
The participants sang “My Homeland,” an unofficial pan-Arab anthem, chanted slogans and waved Palestinian flags. “From Sheikh Jarrah to Silwan, we want to end settlements,” demonstrators called.
The UN Security Council will convene an emergency session on Monday morning to discuss the escalating violence in Jerusalem, including major clashes on the Temple Mount.
The session will be held hours before a scheduled annual march of thousands of Jewish nationalists through the Old City in what some security officials fear may cause the situation, already tense over the impending eviction of 4 Palestinian families from an East Jerusalem neighborhood, to boil over.
The closed-door session will convene following a request from Tunisia, three security council diplomats told The Times of Israel. Such unscheduled meetings are not entirely rare, and the 15-member body has met under such circumstances several times this year to discuss escalations in Myanmar and Ethiopia.
Ahead of the meeting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for Israel to “cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian and international human rights law” and exercise “maximum restraint” in dealing with protests.
Separately on Sunday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan held a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat to discuss Washington’s “serious concerns about the situation in Jerusalem, including violent confrontations at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount during the last days of Ramadan,” according to a White House readout.
The Israel Defense Forces deployed an additional three battalions to the West Bank on Sunday as it seeks to curb the growing violence in the area, the military said.
Those reinforcements — units that were originally meant to be in training — are in addition to four battalions already sent to the West Bank since the start of the month of Ramadan in April. That represents thousands more IDF soldiers deployed to the West Bank than usual.
A rocket was fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Sunday, as Palestinians clashed with Israeli police in Jerusalem and rioted along the Gaza border with Israel amid a serious flare-up of violence over tensions surrounding the Temple Mount that saw some 90 Palestinians hurt in riots on Saturday evening.
The uptick of violence in the south and the capital came after Jerusalem on Friday night saw some of the city’s worst violence in years, with 200 Palestinians and 17 Israeli police officers wounded as hundreds rioted in the Temple Mount and cops broke into the compound to quell the unrest
Palestinian terrorists fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip toward the city of Ashkelon and surrounding communities on Sunday night, the Israel Defense Forces said, following a day of constant airborne arson attacks from the enclave. Just before midnight, two more rockets were launched but landed inside the Strip.
The military said one of the first pair of rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The second apparently landed in an open, unpopulated area.
Video footage from Ashkelon showed at least two interceptor missiles being fired from a nearby Iron Dome air defense battery and then detonating, apparently bringing down one of the rockets.
Early Monday, the IDF said its tanks had fired shells at a number of Hamas military posts in “a response to the rocket fire and arson balloons.”
The rocket attack came an hour after Israel announced it was closing the Gaza Strip’s fishing zone in response to the launching of dozens of balloon-borne incendiary devices throughout the day, which caused dozens of fires and burned large swaths of southern Israel, as well as a mortar attack in the predawn hours of Sunday morning.