Ramadan draws 60,000 to Jerusalem after night of violence

Around 60,000 Muslim worshippers prayed at Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem on the second Friday of Ramadan, after dozens of arrests and violent protests.

About 100 injured during clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem

Palestinians pray in front of the Dome of the Rock, in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on April 23, 2021. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Around 60,000 Muslim worshippers prayed at Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem on the second Friday of Ramadan, after a night of violence.

From late Thursday night into early Friday Israeli police made over 50 arrests and Palestinian medics said 100 were injured during clashes in the contested city at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Police in riot gear and on horseback fought to keep apart two groups of protesters — Palestinian youth hurling firecrackers and setting fire to garbage bins, and ultra-nationalist Israelis chanting anti-Arab slogans.

Clashes and other violent incidents between Palestinians and Israelis have occurred nightly since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Mounted Israeli police officers ride past a fire during clashes with Palestinians, just outside Jerusalem's Old City on April 22, 2021. (Ariel Schalit/The Associated Press)

Worshippers clash with police

Palestinians say police have tried to prevent them from holding their usual Ramadan evening gatherings outside Damascus Gate, an historic landmark on the north side of the Old City and adjacent to several Palestinian neighbourhoods.

"There is clear intentions to stop worshippers, there is intention to make trouble, to make enemies with the worshippers and forbid them from reaching al-Aqsa mosque," said Jerusalem resident Nour el-Dein Qrei.

A Palestinian woman makes her way through the Israeli Qalandia checkpoint to attend the second Friday prayers of Ramadan in Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on April 23, 2021. (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

Police say the measure is part of efforts to ensure Muslims can safely get to the main Islamic prayer site, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem, including the eastern sector captured in the 1967 Middle East war, as its capital. Palestinians seek to make East Jerusalem, including its Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites, capital of a future state.

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