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Jerusalem District Court evacuated amid rioting in nearby Old City

Security guards remain at courthouse on East Jerusalem’s Salah a-Din street, where Netanyahu’s corruption trial was taking place earlier in the day

Police stand guard outside the Jerusalem District Court as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends his corruption trial there, April 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Police stand guard outside the Jerusalem District Court as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends his corruption trial there, April 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Jerusalem District Court was evacuated on Monday afternoon due to security concerns, amid ongoing riots in and around the nearby Old City.

Security guards remained at the courthouse, but all other occupants were removed.

Earlier in the day, the court hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial, with the hearing ending over an hour before the evacuation. Netanyahu, who denies wrongdoing, was not at the court, having received permission to skip the testimony of the state’s witness who was on the stand.

The courthouse is located on Salah a-Din street in East Jerusalem, a short distance from the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, a flashpoint in clashes between Palestinian rioters and police since the start of Ramadan last month.

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces in the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 10, 2021. (Mahmoud Illean/AP)

Some of the most severe recent violence in the Old City area has erupted on the Temple Mount, where major clashes broke out Monday morning after Israeli authorities barred Jews from entering the holy site on Jerusalem Day due to spiraling tensions in the capital.

Police announced later Monday that the route of the Jerusalem Day Flag March would be redirected from the Damascus Gate, amid concerns of confrontations between the mostly religious nationalist Jewish marchers and residents of the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

Jerusalem Day, a national holiday largely celebrated by religious nationalist Jews, marks the reunification of the capital following Israel’s capture of the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

This year Jerusalem Day coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of heightened religious sensitivities, and followed weeks of clashes.

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