Security officials are reportedly considering placing limits on Jerusalem Day events or canceling them entirely, as tensions remained high in the capital with further violence at the conclusion of Sunday morning prayers.
According to Hebrew media reports, the fast-moving situation meant that police were holding assessments every few hours to leave all options on the table for as long as possible ahead of the commemorations set to begin on Sunday evening.
Additionally, the Haaretz daily reported that security officials warned the cabinet that the contentious Flag March set to be held on Monday could lead to an escalation in violence.
Amos Gilad, a former head of Military Intelligence and former top Defense Ministry official, told Army Radio that the march should be scrapped this year.
“I would eliminate anything that creates friction. Jerusalem is currently a powder keg that could explode,” Gilad said.
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai held a security assessment on Saturday on the recent tensions in Jerusalem and ordered commanders, in particular in the Jerusalem area, to “significantly” boost their forces ahead of “another series of expected events over the coming days.”
That was apparently referring to Jerusalem Day, a national holiday that begins Sunday night, in which Israel celebrates the unification of Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city.
The main event on Monday, the so-called Flag March, usually draws tens of thousands to Jerusalem’s Old City, including a large contingent of Jewish religious nationalists. Mass prayer services and gatherings were also expected to be held Sunday night.
Meanwhile, an anonymous police official told Channel 12 news that there were concerns that any potential fatalities in Jerusalem could deteriorate very quickly into a larger and more widescale conflict. Therefore, the source said, officers on the ground had been told to avoid using live fire unless necessary.
Tensions remained high in Jerusalem on Sunday morning with rioters throwing rocks at police at the conclusion of morning prayers. The violence came after a second night of riots in the capital as well as on the Gaza border, with terrorists also firing a rocket from the Strip toward Israel.
According to Hebrew-language reports, protesters gathered near the gates to the Temple Mount on Sunday morning and some rioters began to throw rocks at police officers stationed nearby.
Police entered the area and responded to the rioters with “crowd-dispersal means,” the Kan public broadcaster reported. The Palestinian Red Crescent said 10 people were injured with one person hospitalized for treatment. There were no reports of Israeli injuries.
In footage broadcast by Kan, protesters chanted: “In spirit and in blood, we will redeem Al-Aqsa.” The outlet said that demonstrators also shouted slogans of support for the Hamas terror group in the wake of the firing of a rocket overnight.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 9, 2021
On Friday, 200 Palestinians and 17 Israeli police officers were wounded as hundreds rioted in the Temple Mount and cops broke into the compound to quell the unrest.
On Saturday night, as some 90,000 Muslim worshipers prayed at the site, the clashes with police continued around Jerusalem’s Old City, leading to some 90 Palestinian injuries.
Also on Saturday night, hundreds of Palestinians rioted along the Gaza border fence with Israel, burning tires and throwing explosives at Israeli troops before being dispersed by tear gas.
Later, a rocket was fired from Gaza at southern Israel, landing in an open field. Sirens did not sound in populated areas. The Israel Defense Forces responded with a strike on a Hamas post in the southern Gaza Strip.
Channel 12 reported Saturday there were acute alerts of potential terror attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem in the coming days, after a week that also saw Israeli teen Yehuda Guetta killed in a shooting terror attack as well as an assault by a cell on soldiers while they were reportedly heading for a civilian target in central Israel.
Police said Sunday morning that there was a gag order on reporting further details of the investigation into Friday’s attack.
Additionally, on Wednesday 16-year-old Palestinian teenager Said Odeh was shot and killed by Israeli forces who said he was throwing Molotov cocktails at troops.
A focal point of tensions has been East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where over 70 Palestinian residents are threatened with eviction and could be replaced by right-wing Jewish nationalists in a legal battle being waged in the courts.
An Israeli court has ordered the families to leave, as the property was owned by a Jewish religious association before 1948. A 1970 Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim property in East Jerusalem from before it fell into Jordanian hands; no similar law exists for Palestinians.
The Supreme Court is expected to convene on the families’ appeal on Monday; however, amid the tensions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Benny Gantz are said to be seeking to delay the hearing.