Palestinian worshipers clashed with Israeli police on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Friday afternoon, amid fears of renewed fighting with the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip over the situation in the Holy City.
Police said the clashes began after Friday afternoon prayers at the holy site in the Old City with a procession of several hundred people, dozens of whom refused to disperse when they arrived at the exit to the compound and began hurling rocks at police.
Nine Palestinians were wounded by officers’ sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades, and at least one from a stone thrown by the crowd, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Three of the wounded were hospitalized, the organization said.
Police said they arrested 16 people for throwing stones and rioting.
Palestinian worshipers could be seen raising the Palestinian flag following the Friday prayers.
The clashes occurred after the Israel Defense Forces conducted airstrikes on Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip on Thursday night in response to ongoing arson attacks from the enclave.
Last month’s round of fighting with the Gaza-based terror groups came following violent clashes in Jerusalem.
Palestinian terror groups tied May’s rocket fire from Gaza to unrest in the capital connected to both prayer on the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Since the fighting ended, Hamas has repeatedly warned that it could reopen hostilities over developments in Jerusalem, and has responded with increased belligerence to plans for the march.
On Tuesday, thousands of Jewish nationalists marched through parts of Jerusalem’s Old City, with some chanting racist slogans, as Israel reportedly warned Hamas, via Egyptian mediators, of a tough and immediate response to any rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Starting the morning before the flag march, terrorists in the Strip resumed launching balloons carrying incendiary and explosive devices into southern Israel, violating the fragile ceasefire agreement that began May 21.
The balloon-borne attacks also came as Hamas has reportedly been frustrated by delays in receiving the latest installation of monthly aid it receives from Qatar.
The payment of millions of dollars has not been transferred since last month’s Gaza war, with Israel refusing to allow the money into Gaza until the terror group releases two civilians and two bodies of IDF soldiers that it has been holding captive. Egypt also opposed restarting the Qatari payments, insisting that a new mechanism be used to transfer them to Gaza so that they do not reach Hamas.
A month after an 11-day conflict raged between Israel and Hamas, with the fragile ceasefire under heavy strain, the army chief ordered the IDF to prepare for a resumption of fighting.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank on Friday, violent clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers near Beita, with at least 47 Palestinians hurt from tear gas inhalation and rubber-tipped bullets, according to the Red Crescent.
The area around Beita has seen repeated clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in recent weeks following the reestablishment of a new West Bank outpost known as Evyatar on land close to the town. Palestinians have hurled stones at troops and burned swaths of land, while Israeli soldiers have responded with riot dispersal munitions and live bullets.
Four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in clashes between Beita residents and Israeli forces in recent days.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.