Clashes again erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police early Sunday morning as Muslim worshipers left the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem after all-night prayers on Laylat al-Qadr, Islam's holiest night.
At least 10 Palestinians were injured in the clashes at one of the entrances to the Temple Mount where the mosque is located, the Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday morning.
Some 80,000 worshipers attended the all-night prayers at the mosque, and the clashes began after a short period of relative calm as people left the compound.
The tensions spilled over into the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian factions fired a rocket at southern Israel overnight and lit fires and rioted along the border. The rocket fell in an open area causing no damage or injuries but triggering an IDF retaliatory strike on Hamas targets in Gaza.
The renewed violence followed a stormy Saturday night in Jerusalem, as Palestinian youths threw stones, lit fires and tore down police barricades in the streets leading to the Old City as officers on horseback and in riot gear used stun grenades and water cannons to repel them.
At least 90 people were injured Saturday night, including minors and a one-year-old, and 14 were taken to hospital, the Palestine Red Crescent said. Israeli police said at least one officer was hurt.
"They do not want us to pray. There is a fight every day, every day there are clashes. Every day there are troubles," said Mahmoud al-Marbua, 27, speaking near the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City, the scene of often violent protests during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Pointing to police chasing youths and firing thunder-flashes at them, he added: "Look how they are firing at us. How can we live?"
The weeks of clashes initially began when police blocked the plaza outside the Damascus Gate, a popular gathering spot for Jerusalem's Palestinian residents during Ramadan.
The tensions were compounded by growing anger over the potential eviction of several Palestinian families from their East Jerusalem homes on land claimed by settlers and a spate of attacks on ultra-Orthodox Jews in the city by young Palestinians, which were then posted on the TikTok social media site.
The High Court was due to rule Monday on the evictions from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, in an apparent attempt to calm the already volatile situation in Jerusalem, was planning to request a delay.
In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of protesters gathered along the border with Israel. The IDF said the crowds threw burning tires and firecrackers toward the troops.
"We salute the people of al-Aqsa, who oppose the arrogance of the Zionists & we call on our people in Palestine to support their brothers by all means," Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk wrote on Twitter.
A Palestinian official said Egypt was mediating between the sides to prevent further escalation and Saturday's violence appeared less pronounced than Friday's events.
At least 205 Palestinians and 18 Israeli officers were injured in Friday’s confrontations, which drew international condemnations and calls for calm.
Clashes have erupted nightly in Sheikh Jarrah and police said dozens of protesters threw stones at officers there on Saturday.
Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said extra officers were being deployed in Jerusalem on Saturday to "enable freedom of worship and maintain order and security."
"At the same time, we will not allow violent riots, lawbreaking or the harming of police officers. We ask everyone to calm the spirits and violence, particularly on such an important day for the Muslim religion," Shabtai said in a statement.
The IDF said it was boosting troops in the West Bank and near the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have sent incendiary balloons over the border, igniting brushfires in Israeli territory. A military spokesman said extra forces there would largely be firefighting ones.
The Middle East quartet of mediators - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations expressed concern over the violence and potential Jerusalem evictions.
"We call upon Israeli authorities to exercise restraint and to avoid measures that would further escalate the situation during this period of Muslim Holy Days," the Quartet said in a statement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that law and order would be maintained in Jerusalem as would the right to worship.
Television footage showed buses of Muslim worshippers heading from Israeli Arab cities to al-Aqsa being stopped Friday by police on the main highway to Jerusalem.
Word of the roadblock spread on social media, drawing hundreds of young men from nearby Arab villages and from Jerusalem.
Dozens drove their cars the wrong way down the now-empty Jerusalem-bound lanes, picking up fellow Muslims who had abandoned their own vehicles to start the uphill trek on foot. Some chanted in Arabic: "With our souls and our blood, we will redeem you, Al-Aqsa!"
Police said it was stopping only those planning to take part in riots before the buses were allowed to proceed. Scuffles broke out and footage showed officers firing stun grenades.
First published: 07:17, 05.09.21