A Palestinian man who suffered a serious head injury during clashes on the Temple Mount on Friday has lapsed into a coma and is in a critical condition, his family said.
Palestinians say that the man, Walid a-Sharif, 21, was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet. However, police said he was injured after he fell and hit his head while throwing rocks.
Clashes and unrest broke out early Friday at the Temple Mount following both morning and afternoon Ramadan prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Calm was eventually restored, and evening prayers — attended by at least 100,000 Palestinians according to reports — passed with no major incident.
A-Sharif was hurt in early morning clashes, in addition to another 57 Palestinians hurt amid the violence on Friday, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. He was taken by police officers to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.
Palestinians said the man was hit by a sponge bullet fired by officers, but police said he was one of the masked youths hurling rocks and fell over and hit his head on the stone floor.
“There is no evidence of injury from live ammunition,” the hospital said in a statement.
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
A-Sharif’s brother told the Haaretz newspaper that his condition had deteriorated.
“He is in a coma, oxygen is not reaching his brain and he has bleeding on the brain and a skull fracture,” he said, adding that doctors had exhausted their treatment options. “We are just waiting and only Allah can help him now,” he said.
Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi, who visited him at the hospital, said his condition was critical and he was “suffering from widespread brain damage.”
Police published footage of 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
Police also said that in the morning a female police officer was hit in the face by a rock thrown at her and was taken in for medical treatment.
If a-Sharif were to die of his injuries it could inflame an already tense situation.
Police are gearing up for possible unrest in Arab Israeli communities after the day of violence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, according to Hebrew media reports Friday.
Kan and Channel 12 said police were preparing for tensions surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque to potentially spread to Arab Israeli locales.
According to Channel 12, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai has ordered reserve Border Police officers to be put on alert for immediate call-up over concerns the violence could spread to cities like Umm al-Fahm and Nazareth.
There have been limited clashes in those cities over the past week, apparently in solidarity with those arrested during the violence in Jerusalem.
On Friday night, dozens in Umm al-Fahm were seen chanting in support of the Hamas terror group and those who confronted police on the Temple Mount earlier in the day.
An unnamed security official told Hebrew-language media that Hamas has increased its efforts in recent days to incite a broader flareup, chiefly through the clashes at the Temple Mount. The source said the Waqf, a Jordanian-appointed council that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, attempted to prevent Palestinians from attacking police on Friday morning, with little success.
Similar violence has erupted almost daily at the Temple Mount since last Friday, when intense clashes broke out at the compound.
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, which sits atop the Temple Mount, is 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.
Along with Gaza and Jerusalem, the West Bank has also been a locus of recent tensions as security forces have ramped up operations after 14 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, with at least 18 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces. On Friday morning, a 20-year-old Palestinian who was shot by Israeli troops after allegedly hurling an explosive device at them in the town of Yamoun on Monday, died of his wounds.