Police, Palestinians clash by Damascus Gate for third consecutive night

The site in Jerusalem’s Old City has been a frequent flashpoint in recent months; latest clashes sparked by allegations city workers disturbed a Muslim cemetery

Israeli border guards confront Palestinian protesters during clashes near the Lion's Gate entrance to Old City of Jerusalem on October 10, 2021. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Israeli border guards confront Palestinian protesters during clashes near the Lion's Gate entrance to Old City of Jerusalem on October 10, 2021. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Two Palestinians were arrested and another two detained after violent clashes with Israeli police broke out for the third night in a row near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday.

Police said Palestinians threw stones at officers and passing buses, damaging some of them. Officers responded with riot control means, including stun grenades and a “skunk water” cannon.

In videos from the scene, Palestinians can be seen taking cover as the cannon fired its noxious spray in an effort to disperse them. In other videos, Palestinians and Border Police can be seen scuffling.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The clashes marked the third straight night of unrest in Jerusalem’s Old City, much it centered around or near Damascus Gate, with clashes sparked by allegations that city workers disturbed graves at a Muslim cemetery.

Ten Palestinians were injured on Sunday night after clashes broke out in the area, according to Palestinian media.

Palestinians said they were protesting over an alleged incursion by Israeli bulldozers into a Muslim cemetery — known as al-Yusufiyya — in Musrara, which borders Jerusalem’s Old City.

However, the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority said in a statement that human remains had been discovered outside the boundaries of an existing Muslim cemetery during routine work to develop public land.

Palestinians also clashed with Israeli police near Damascus Gate on Saturday. Some Palestinian demonstrators threw rocks, while police responded with stun grenades. In some videos, officers can be seen using dogs in an attempt to threaten demonstrators.

Damascus Gate emerged as a flashpoint in the escalation to the May war between Israel and Gaza terror groups. In mid-April, Israeli police erected barricades on the stone stairway leading towards the archway during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The policy sparked violent clashes with Palestinians, for whom sitting on the stairway is a holiday tradition.

Police eventually removed the barricades following public criticism. But the confrontations ignited still further violence: the Jewish supremacist Lehava group held a counter-demonstration on the scene in late April. As the days went by, the nightly clashes at Damascus Gate became a regular event.

In early May, religious-nationalist Israelis planned to hold a traditional march through Damascus Gate on Jerusalem Day to celebrate Israel’s capture of the eastern part of the city in 1967. Security officials warned that the march could ignite tensions with Palestinians or even start a war, and the government rerouted the parade at the last moment. Hamas terrorists fired rockets towards Israel despite the cancellation, citing recent police raids on the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

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