The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.
Several buses carrying Arab Israelis to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount are held up at a police checkpoint on a highway outside the city, which is bracing for further violence after seeing some of the worst clashes in years yesterday.
Video shows passengers getting off the buses and marching along Route 1, the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with some blocking traffic in both directions.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 8, 2021
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with top security officials after last night’s rioting on the Temple Mount, in some of the worst violence in the city in years.
“We are acting responsibly to ensure law and order in Jerusalem while maintaining freedom of worship at the holy sites,” he says in a statement.
Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman predicts there will be attempts to provoke violence in the city this evening, after major clashes erupted last night on the Temple Mount between police and Muslim worshipers, amid rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions and as Ramadan comes to an end.
“We won’t allow rioting,” he is quoted saying by the Kan public broadcaster.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert weighs in on the recent tensions in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood over the pending evictions of several Palestinian families from homes claimed by right-wing Jews.
“There are extreme elements in the Jewish population who are fanning the fire and adding to the problem, which needs to be decided judicially,” he tells the Kan public broadcaster. “A kind of intifada is brewing, which is possible to prevent.”
Police believe the clashes on the Temple Mount are being led by Hamas operatives, and are linking the recent violence at the Jerusalem holy site to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to indefinitely delay legislative elections that were scheduled for later this month, the Haaretz daily reports.
Police issue their first statement on the decision to stop buses carrying Arab Israelis to the Temple Mount following major clashes there last night, saying there were suspicions some passengers were planning to riot at the Jerusalem holy site.
“After the suspicions were verified, the same passengers were asked to get off the bus and turn around. After the passengers planing to take part in protests got off, the buses were allowed to continue,” a police statement says.
The statement adds: “The Israel Police respect all religions and will continue to allow freedom of worship. With this, the police will not allow protestors to reach Jerusalem to take part in violent disturbances.”
Protests over Israel’s response to major rioting on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount last night are held in numerous Arab communities throughout the country.
The demonstrators also express support for Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where several families face evictions from homes claimed by nationalist Jews, according to the Ynet news site.
Some of the protesters block traffic in both directions on a section of Route 65 in northern Israel.
Arab politicians in left-wing Zionist parties slam police after officers stopped buses of Arab Israelis headed to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, where the police say some passengers were planning to riot.
“At this moment racist selection is taking place at the entrance to Jerusalem. Jews enter, Arabs are stopped,” Meretz member Issawi Freij writes on Twitter. “I call on the police to get a grip, open the checkpoints and allow arrival to Al-Aqsa.”
Labor MK Ibtisam Mara’ana tweets: “Citizens fasting [for Ramadan] are making pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Laylat al-Qadr… a night of prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the police block Route 1… Terrible harm to freedom of worship and movement of so many citizens.”
She says police should “remember they are citizens and not enemies.”
A brawl breaks out between Jews and Arabs at the A-Tur Junction just north of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, during which someone fired a gun into the air.
Police say officers who arrived at the scene were pelted with rocks and “were forced to use means” while arresting two suspects on suspicion of assault and rock-throwing. Police did not specify which of the brawlers threw the rocks.
The person who fired the gun is also detained for questioning.
The traffic jam on Route 1 is begining to ease as police remove roadblocks.
Arab Israelis blocked the road after the buses they were traveling on to Jerusalem were stopped by police, who allege some passengers were planning to riot on the Temple Mount.
Police says dozens of “rioters” blocking Route 1 assaulted police after a number of buses carrying Arab Israelis to Jerusalem were stopped.
Officers are working to clear the protesters and reopen the highway, according to a police statement.
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) May 8, 2021
Police say Route 1 has been reopened in both directions after several hours in which it was blocked by Arab Israelis when their buses were stopped at a checkpoint.
Meanwhile, police report disruptions to traffic on Route 443 after Muslim worshipers begin marching on the highway.
Police say they stopped the buses because some passengers were planning to riot at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, as prayers for Laylat Al-Qadr — one of the holiest nights during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan — are set to be held there this evening.
The head of the IDF Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, has ordered the Israeli Air Force “to refresh” its target bank in the Gaza Strip and be ready for a deterioration in the security situation there, the Walla news site reports.
Snipers and some soldiers have also been stationed along the Gaza border, according to the news site.
Yamina MK Amichai Chikli explains why he opposes his party leader Naftali Bennett’s efforts to form a unity government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to assemble a right-wing coalition, and why he prefers the Islamist Ra’am party over the left-wing Meretz.
“This is one of the weightier decisions I’ve made. Just a feeling of unease that accumulated — a feeling that it’s not me, that I’m not whole with this,” Chikli tells Channel 12 news in an interview aired this evening.
Chikli acknowledges his decision has put Bennett in a tough spot. “I’m aware of this. I have no motivation to hurt them,” he says.
Asked why he doesn’t oppose a Netanyahu-led government propped up by Ra’am but is against a unity government with Meretz, Chikli says Israel’s Arab community is undergoing “interesting” processes.
Still, he says, “I’m not sure that [Ra’am leader Mansour] Abbas will fully admit that he recognizes Israel as Jewish and democratic.”
Interviewer Rina Matzliah then asks why he doesn’t have an issue with the anti-Zionist Ra’am party, but does with the left-wing Zionist Meretz.
Chikli says it’s because Meretz has a “boycott” on Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges. He insists parties should stick with what they campaigned on.
Chikli also says he won’t leave Yamina and that they are trying “to solve the conflict.”
He says Netanyahu called him to congratulate him on coming out against a unity government, but that he didn’t speak with the premier before this.
He also says he still isn’t sure how he’ll vote if a prospective unity government led by Bennett and Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid must be approved by the Knesset.
Muslim worshipers have begun arriving at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for Laylat al-Qadr, one of the holiest nights during the holy month of Ramadan.
Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman said earlier that police are anticipating significant clashes following last night’s rioting at the Temple Mount, which was some of the worst violence Jerusalem has seen in years.
بالروح بالدم نفديك يا أقصى.. هتافات المصلين تتعالى في باحات المسجد الأقصى pic.twitter.com/91BZR26XJw
— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) May 8, 2021
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashes out at Israel after major clashes between Palestinians and police on the Temple Mount last night.
“We strongly condemn Israel’s heinous attacks against our first qibla #AlAqsaMosque, that are unfortunately being carried out every Ramadan,” tweets Erdogan, who as Turkey’s leader has embraced the Hamas terror group and frequently lashed out at Israel in relation to Jerusalem.
He adds: “As Turkey, we will continue to stand by our Palestinian brothers and sisters in all circumstances.”
Erdogan also puts out tweets in Hebrew, Turkish and Arabic.
As Laylat al-Qadr prayers are set to begin, police say officers are deployed throughout the Old City, a day after major clashes erupted on the Temple Mount following evening prayers for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
A police statement says the officers are there “to maintain order and allow the arrival of thousands of worshipers to the Temple Mount, while ensuring the safety of those coming to the Old City.”
Police say two officers were assaulted a short time ago in the Old City, with two suspects arrested and taken for questioning.
It also says locals threw rocks at police officers and struck a cop, who required medical care.
A suspect was arrested in connection to the incident. Police say the suspect is receiving medical care and will then be taken for questioning, without elaborating further.
Not far from Jerusalem’s Old City, where Laylat al-Qadr prayers are being held on the Temple Mount, renewed clashes break out in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
The neighborhood has recently been the site of tensions over the pending eviction of several Palestinian families from homes claimed by nationalist Jews.
Police say a small protest there turned into rioting that included “waving Palestinian flags and throwing rocks toward the forces.” The officers there respond with riot dispersal means.
The Hamas terror group’s military wing reiterates its threat to attack Israel if the pending eviction of several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood goes ahead.
“We praise the steadfastness of our faithful people defending Jerusalem and al-Aqsa. We tell them: Commander Mohammad Deif made a promise, and he shall not retreat from it,” says a spokesperson for the Izz al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.
The official Hamas mouthpiece says the “nightly confusion units” have begun rioting at the border fence between Gaza and Israel.
“Protesters light rubber tires and throw improvised explosive devices as they come to the aid of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas media outlet al-Resalah says.
The Waqf reports more than 90,000 Palestinians attended Laylat al-Qadr prayers on the Temple Mount.
The number is substantially less than a normal year, as Israel limited the number of Palestinians who could enter due to a wave of COVID-19 transmission in the West Bank and Gaza.
Worshipers at the Temple Mount for Laylat al-Qadr prayers are chanting in support of the Hamas terror group’s military wing, which this evening reiterated its threat to attack Israel over recent tensions in Jerusalem.
“Strike Tel Aviv,” they chant. “In spirit and in blood, we will redeem al-Aqsa.”
Similar chants are heard at the Damascus Gate, as Palestinians throw water bottles at riot police, who respond with stun grenades.
Palestinian demonstrators also light a trash can on fire on Salah al-Din Street near the Damascus Gate as clashes with police intensify.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 8, 2021
Several prominent progressive US lawmakers condemn Israel over the pending evictions of several Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, whose homes are claimed by nationalist Jews as part of a long-running legal battle.
“The United States must speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders writes in a tweet, seemingly referring to far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir.
The United States must speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 8, 2021
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, denounces the evictions as “abhorrent and unacceptable.”
“The Administration should make clear to the Israeli government that these evictions are illegal and must stop immediately,” she says.
The forced removal of long-time Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah is abhorrent and unacceptable. The Administration should make clear to the Israeli government that these evictions are illegal and must stop immediately. https://t.co/uI1vnTjDau
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 8, 2021
New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also slams Israel over the “inhumane” evictions, tweeting: “Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence.”
We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence.
It is inhumane and the US must show leadership in safeguarding the human rights of Palestinians.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 8, 2021
The Red Crescent says it has set up a field hospital to treat Palestinians wounded in clashes with police at the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
It adds that its medics have treated 17 people wounded in clashes across Jerusalem tonight, six of whom were hospitalized for what it says were mostly wounds from rubber or sponge-tipped bullets.
The central committee of Fatah, the movement led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, warns of a broader conflict with Israel amid escalating tensions in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In a statement, the committee calls for a “continuation of the public uprising and fight against the occupation and the settlers.”
“The continuation of the settler attacks on the holy places and the homes of Palestinian residents, their expulsion and expansion of settlements — will lead to an all-out conflict in all the Palestinian territories,” it adds.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s armed wing, also puts out a statement threatening Israel.
“We will not abandon our holy places. We will be as one hand in our response to the enemy,” it says.
At the Damascus Gate, Palestinians hurl stones at a police post.
Police respond by tossing sound grenades onto the steps leading towards the gate, sending Palestinians scrambling.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 8, 2021
The Palestinian Red Crescent says its medics have treated 53 Palestinians wounded in clashes tonight in Jerusalem.
Injuries were caused by rubber-tipped bullets, sound grenades, and physical blows, the first aid organization says.
Two Palestinians have been arrested after spraying Israeli police officers with pepper spray in Sheikh Jarrah, police say.
Police also say the East Jerusalem suspects were found to be carrying “means of attack,” without specifying.
The Israel Defense Forces say a rocket has been fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel.
The rocket alert sirens were triggered only in a field, where the projectile apparently landed.
There are no reports of damage or injury.
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