Israel closes Gaza crossing after three rockets were fired from the coastal enclave
JERUSALEM – Fresh attack by Israeli security forces on Palestinian protesters left dozens injured on Monday as a clash about access to parts of the Old City and attempts to evict a Palestinian family from their home reached one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites.
The Red Crescent organization reported multiple injuries, with at least 50 sent to hospital, after the fighting at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Images relayed by local media on Monday showed security officers using flash grenades against protesters, with Palestinians responding by throwing rocks.
The clashes have grown more intense in recent days. On May 7, about 300 Palestinians and 20 police officers sustained injuries.
The situation in the West Bank and in the Arab-dominated eastern part of Jerusalem has been tense since the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is set to end later this week.
Many Palestinians are angry because Israeli police had cordoned off areas of the Old City to prevent gatherings.
In addition, some Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah are facing eviction from their homes by Israeli authorities, further heightening tensions.
A Supreme Court ruling on the evictions expected for Monday was postponed.
Adding to the tension, Israel marks Jerusalem Day on Monday, when the country commemorates its annexation of East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967.
Palestinians see East Jerusalem as a potential capital of any independent country and contest Israel’s claim.
In an effort to minimize violence, Israeli authorities have banned parades by Jewish groups through the old city and to the Temple Mount.
The UN Security Council was set to meet in an emergency session on Monday to discuss increasing violence, the Times of Israel reported, citing Israeli diplomats.
The council is to meet behind closed doors after a request from Tunisia, three security council diplomats told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, the Israel government said on Monday that it has closed the Erez Crossing, the only pedestrian passage between the Gaza Strip and the Jewish state, after rockets were fired from the coastal enclave.
Fighters in Gaza fired three rockets towards southern Israel early Monday morning, one of which was intercepted by the country’s anti-rocket Iron Dome system, and it was not immediately clear where the other two fell, according to a military statement.
No damage or injuries were reported, reports Xinhua news agency.
In response, Israel’s Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories Ghassan Alian announced that the Erez Crossing was shut down “until a further notice” and that only “exceptional humanitarian cases” would be allowed to pass.
Alian said that the measure was a response to the rockets and incendiary balloons from Gaza over the past days, which were “a violation of Israeli sovereignty”.
The move came a day after Israel closed the fishing zone offshore the besieged Palestinian enclave.
The projectiles came after an overnight cross-border exchange of attacks.
Gaza has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007.
Tensions were soaring between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured and at least one was killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.
The clashes were sparked by Israeli restrictions during the holy month of Ramadan and the planned eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. – IANS