Israeli forces violently crack down on Palestinians in Jerusalem, leaving 163 injured
At least 163 Palestinians were injured in a crack down by Israeli forces across Israel-annexed east Jerusalem late Friday, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Police violence erupted at Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam, as ten of thousands of worshippers marked the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Israeli forces stormed the site, firing rubber bullets, tear gas and smoke grenades after Palestinians staged a protest in solidarity with families facing forced eviction from their homes in the city's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to make way for Jewish settlers.
At least 49 Palestinians were reported wounded in the chaos that ensued. The Red Crescent said most sustained bullet injuries to the head and eyes and that it was forced to open a field hospital to treat those injured because emergency rooms were full.
A police spokesman confirmed to AFP that force was used to disperse the worshippers, claiming it was a response to stones and bottles thrown in their direction. Six Israeli police officers were reported wounded.
Tensions are running high in East Jerusalem, which Israel has illegally occupied since 1967, as protests continue over Israeli authorities restricting access to the Old City during Ramadan as well as the eviction threat facing four Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.
A years-long land dispute between Palestinian refugees and Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah has become emblematic of Israel's apparent attempts to change the demographic makeup of the city, drawing accusations of "ethnic cleansing" by rights groups and activists.
The United Nations has warned that the threat of forced eviction facing the families could amount to "war crimes".
AFP correspondents said around 100 Palestinians again rallied Friday night in the district, which is close the Old City, and that police used stun grenades and water cannon to disperse them.
The Red Crescent said many Palestinians were injured in Sheikh Jarrah and around the Damascus Gate, a key access point to the Old City, in clashes with Israeli forces.
In Jordan – home to a large Palestinian population – hundreds rallied Friday, chanting "we will die for Sheikh Jarrah".
Jordan administered the West Bank, including mostly Arab east Jerusalem, until the 1967 Six-Day War and remains the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.