From TikTok to Temple Mount clashes: 28 days of violence in Jerusalem
Hundreds of Palestinians were injured over the weekend as long-simmering tensions between Jews and Arabs boiled over in Jerusalem, leading to repeated clashes between Ramadan worshipers and police at one of the city’s holiest sites.
At least 205 Palestinians and 17 police officers were wounded Friday as clashes erupted at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the final Friday of Ramadan as large forces of police were deployed as tens of thousands came to worship. Police used violent crowd dispersal measures against worshipers, some of whom had hurled stones and other objects at Israeli forces. The violence continued on Saturday evening during subsequent skirmishes in the Old City and in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Recent weeks have seen increasingly violent clashes between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem and the West Bank, driven in part by Palestinian anger over police restrictions on Ramadan gatherings near the Temple Mount and the pending eviction of several Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in favor of Jewish settlers.
What follows is a detailed breakdown of the events which have led to the most recent round of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.
April 12: Damascus Gate clashes
The current escalations can credibly be dated back to the beginning of Ramadan, when the Israel Police put up barriers preventing people from sitting in the Damascus Gate plaza, the most popular public area during the month of Ramadan.
For hundreds of young Palestinians who gather every evening on the streets surrounding the plaza, the Israeli move has become a symbol of humiliation and Israeli control over their Ramadan traditions and over Palestinian space in Jerusalem.
The decision led to days of clashes, which the police sought to quell through the use of water cannons, stun grenades and other riot control measures.
April 15: TikTok trouble
A video of a Palestinian teen slapping an ultra-orthodox Jewish man on Jerusalem’s light rail went viral on the social media app TikTok, leading to several copycat incidents and generating widespread outrage among Israeli officials.
תיעוד: צעיר ערבי סוטר לבחור חרדי במהלך נסיעה ברכבת הקלה, סתם, בשביל הסרטון ואת התיעוד הוא פרסם בחשבון הטיקטוק האישי שלו pic.twitter.com/4EWaKAfdfv
— חיים גולדברג (@haim_goldberg) April 15, 2021
April 16: Ramadan restrictions
Tensions rose further on the first Friday of Ramadan, when Israel imposed a 10,000-person limit on prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, turning away tens of thousands of Palestinians.
April 18: More fighting around Damascus Gate
Following a string of violent incidents, including an attack on Jewish passersby and several incidents of suspected excessive force by police, clashes between police and protesters broke out again in the area around the Damascus Gate. Police responded forcefully, dispatching water cannons and mounted police to disperse the crowd.
April 18-19: A Rabbi is beaten, and Jaffa erupts
Protests convulsed the city of Jaffa for two days following the beating of Rabbi Eliyahu Mali, the head of the local Shirat Moshe Yeshiva, by two Arab residents. The attack marked an escalation in the fight over plans to sell a local building to the Jewish religious institution.
Police begin attempt to disperse Lehava marchers with shock grenades & water cannons. Several injured, several arrested during ongoing rioting. pic.twitter.com/7tVfYJFjNh
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) April 22, 2021
Later, a judge ruled that he was unconvinced that the attack was racially motivated. The police representative at the hearing said the suspects claimed Rabbi Mali had entered a fenced-off area owned by their neighbor before the incident.
Jaffa residents have recently held weekly demonstrations against the sale of assets that the government seized decades ago from Arabs who left in 1948.
April 22: Far-right anti-miscegenation group riots in Jerusalem
More than 100 Palestinians were wounded after members of the Jewish supremacist Lehava organization took part in a march through Jerusalem intended to “restore Jewish dignity.”
Chanting “death to Arabs,” the protesters fought with police, assaulted Arabs and clashed with left-wing counter-protestors. The march followed a week of violent assaults on Israeli Arabs and Palestinian residents of central Jerusalem, apparently in retaliation for the previous TikTok assaults. At the same time, an Israeli Jewish man was lightly wounded in an attack by Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
April 23-24: Gaza rocket barrage
The IDF struck Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip on April 23 after 36 rockets from fringe militant groups were fired at southern Israel. The IDF reported that its jets struck Hamas’ underground infrastructure and rocket launchers in Gaza. Two more rockets were fired the following day as hundreds of Palestinians protested along the border. The army said that they responded with riot dispersal methods.
April 24: Jewish man attacked in Wadi al-Joz
A Jewish man was attacked by Palestinians while driving in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz in what police commissioner Kobi Shabtai called an act of terror. The attack came on the same day that police clashed with dozens of Palestinian youths at Damascus Gate and a police officer was filmed slapping a Palestinian man in the face.
April 25: Police remove Damascus Gate barriers
Police barriers at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate plaza were removed on the orders of the police commissioner, allowing crowds to sit in the area for the first time in two weeks. Kobi Shabtai gave the order to remove the barriers after requests by Islamic religious figures despite objections from senior police officials.
April 29: Palestinian elections delayed
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delayed planned elections, blaming Israel for uncertainty about whether it would allow them to proceed in East Jerusalem as well as in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Hamas blamed Israel.
May 2: Two Israelis wounded, one killed in West Bank drive-by shooting
Three Israelis were wounded, one critically, in a suspected shooting attack at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank. Yehuda Guetta, a 19-year old yeshiva student, subsequently dies of his wounds.
A 60-year old Palestinian woman who attempted to carry out a stabbing attack against IDF troops was shot and killed.
May 5: Palestinian boy shot, Hamas threatens Israel
16-year-old Palestinian Saeed Yusuf Muhammad Oudeh was shot and killed by IDF troops during clashes in the West Bank village of Odla. The leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, warned Israel that the group was closely watching developments in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, saying Israel would pay a heavy price if “the aggression doesn’t stop.”
May 6: Incendiary balloon attacks resume
Six fires were started by incendiary balloons at two locations near the Gaza border, making it the first such incident since September. Several further balloon attacks were in the following days.
May 6-7: Kahanist MK moves office into Sheikh Jarrah
Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir set up temporary office in Sheikh Jarrah, setting off a fresh round of clashes. He left the next day, claiming that he had done so after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed in return to maintain a heavy police presence in the Palestinian neighborhood until the end of Ramadan next week.
May 7: Palestinians gunmen killed during attack on IDF base
Two Palestinians were shot dead and one was critically injured by Israeli fire after the three of them shot at an Israeli military base near the West Bank.
May 7: Hundreds wounded at Al-Aqsa
At least 205 Palestinians and 17 police officers were wounded Friday as clashes erupted at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Some 70,000 worshipers attended the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa.
Tensions boiled over after the evening prayer. Palestinians began throwing rocks at police officers who were deployed in large numbers on the Mount. The police fired stun grenades into the mosque, which held hundreds of people at the time, and in one case they broke into a field clinic and fired stun grenades inside.
May 8: Right-wing Jews march through East Jerusalem
About 100 Palestinians were injured in violent clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Jerusalem. Clashes were concentrated on the Temple Mount, at various sites in the Old City and in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Police blocked buses full of Ramadan worshipers from entering Jerusalem, leading to protests on Israeli highways.
בינתיים ברובע המוסלמי. pic.twitter.com/uJPzUcdytR
— نير حسون Nir Hasson ניר חסון (@nirhasson) May 8, 2021
Meanwhile, far-right yeshiva students marched through Jerusalem’s old city, chanting nationalist slogans.
May 9: Gantz looks to postpone Sheikh Jarrah hearing
Kan public broadcaster reported that Justice Minister Benny Gantz was looking to postpone a scheduled court hearing on the eviction of several Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah in order to lower tensions.
May 9: Gaza rocket hits Israel
One rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel, landing in an open area. The IDF responded by attacking a Hamas military post in the southern Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said some 450 Gazans protested near the border fence in solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem.
May 10: Jerusalem Day
Tensions remain high as Israelis prepare for Jerusalem Day on Monday, with its attendant large crowds and the annual flag march of the religious-Zionist movement around the Old City wall. The High Court of Justice postponed a hearing regarding the eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah on Monday, leading to fears that the combination of the two events could ignite further Israeli-Palestinian violence.