A Palestinian man who suffered a serious head injury during clashes on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount several weeks ago died of his wounds on Saturday morning, medical officials said.
Palestinians said that the man, Walid a-Sharif, 21, was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet during the clashes on April 22.
However, police said he was injured after he fell and hit his head while throwing rocks.
Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center said he arrived at the hospital with a “head injury and in very serious condition,” without publicly determining the cause of the injury. He was in a coma since he was hospitalized, the hospital said.
Hours after his death, Hamas said a-Sharif was a member of the terror group.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group issued a statement threatening Israel in the wake of a-Sharif’s death.
“We mourn the martyr Walid a-Sharif. We affirm that the crimes of the occupation and the blood of innocents will be a curse that haunts the killers,” the terror group said.
لحظة إصابة قوات الاحتلال شاباً واعتقاله من المسجد الأقصى صباح اليوم.. يذكر أن حالته خطيرة جداً pic.twitter.com/QYHpQegqHI
— AlQastal القسطل (@AlQastalps) April 22, 2022
Clashes and unrest had been breaking out at the al-Aqsa Mosque that sits atop the Temple Mount nearly every day during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in April.
Police said a-Sharif was one of the masked youths hurling rocks when he fell over and hit his head on the stone floor. His family disputed this, saying he was hit by a sponge bullet, used by police that morning.
Police published footage of what they said was a-Sharif, his face covered in a black and white checked keffiyeh, repeatedly throwing stones and rocks at Israeli security forces.
ווליד א-שריף נפצע קשה מאוד הבוקר במהלך המהומות במסגד אל אקצא. הוא מאושפז בבית החולים הדסה עין כרם כבר משעות הבוקר, ולמשפחתו לא ניתן להבין מה מצבו. כעת נמסר שהוא במצב קשה מאוד. כאן הוא מתועד מיידה אבנים בבוקר. הרופאים לא קבעו עדיין אם פציעתו נגרמה מפגיעה של המשטרה או לאחר שנפל>> pic.twitter.com/SoyMOcE9y2
— סולימאן מסוודה سليمان مسودة (@SuleimanMas1) April 22, 2022
The Temple Mount is a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, with clashes there last year helping precipitate the 11-day military conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip after the enclave’s Hamas rulers fired rockets at Jerusalem. The site is the most sacred place for Jews as the location of the biblical temples, and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site for Muslims.
Jerusalem has been a tinderbox in recent weeks as Palestinians scraped with police on the flashpoint Temple Mount, the Ramadan and Passover holidays drew thousands to holy sites, Israeli security forces cracked down on terror in the West Bank, and Gaza terror groups stoked the flames.
On Friday tensions were again high in Jerusalem as Israeli police violently dispersed an attempt by Palestinians to carry the casket of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The Al Jazeera reporter was killed Wednesday morning while covering clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen during an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin.
The West Bank has also been a focus of recent tensions as security forces have ramped up operations after 19 people were killed in a series of terror attacks carried out by Arab Israelis and Palestinians.
Troops have been carrying out extensive raids in the West Bank in response to the attacks. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, 31 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops since late March. Some committed violent terror attacks, others participated in clashes with soldiers, while some appeared to have been unarmed bystanders.
Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.