Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on Israel‘s intention to protect the right to worship during a meeting with numerous security heads following a night of violence in Jerusalem’s Old City amid Temple Mount clashes between Palestinian Muslim worshippers and security personnel.
Violent clashes had broken out at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on 7 May between worshippers and security forces, just as tens of thousands of Muslims gathered to mark the last Friday prayers of the Ramadan month of fasting.
As many as 17 Israeli police officers were injured in the clashes with approximately half of them needing treatment in hospitals, a police spokesperson said Saturday morning.
One of the injured was an Israeli officer who is in moderate condition after being hit in the face with a rock.
Some 205 Palestinians were injured, according to Palestine Red Crescent, with 108 of those injured transferred to Jerusalem hospitals for treatment.
One of the injured lost an eye, two suffered serious head wounds and two had their jaws fractured, the Red Crescent said. Most of the rest of the injuries were minor, it added.
Footage from the Temple Mount showed Israeli security forces firing a stun grenade into al-Aqsa Mosque, KAN News reported. Police were then seen locking the doors of the mosque while worshipers were still inside, according to KAN News.
Border Police officers closed off Damascus Gate in the Old City in an attempt to regain control of the situation and to prevent more people from joining the riots.
Following the incident, Netanyahu met with numerous security heads on Saturday afternoon.
“Israel is acting responsibly to keep law and order in Jerusalem while protecting the right to worship in the Holy sites,” Netanyahu said during the meeting.
Defence Minister of Israel Benny Gantz, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Israel Police head Kobi Shabtai, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat and several other security officials were in attendance.
Israel Police reported that “police troops began using riot control measures a while ago, in an attempt to restore order after violent riots broke out at the Temple Mount, during which hundreds of suspects started throwing rocks, bottles and other items toward our forces.”
“We will not allow the disruption of order, any form of violence and attempts to harm officers while taking advantage of the freedom of religion and using it to promote a violent incident that includes hundreds of worshipers starting to riot and hurting police officers,” a police statement released after police managed to regain control at the Temple Mount read.
Earlier, a video published by KAN News showed worshipers waving Hamas flags on the mount.
Israel Police and the IDF had sent reinforcements to the capital in preparation for the fourth and final Friday prayers on the Temple Mount for the fasting month of Ramadan, closing off several streets in the area.