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'No evidence that badly hurt Palestinian was hit by bullet'

Police said preparing to call up reserves in case of mass unrest in Arab towns

As tensions remain high around Temple Mount, dozens chant in support of Hamas in Umm al-Fahm; evening prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque pass without incident

Police officers are seen during a riot at the entrance of the northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, early April 23, 2022. (Israel Police)
Police officers are seen during a riot at the entrance of the northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, early April 23, 2022. (Israel Police)

Police are gearing up for possible unrest in Arab Israeli communities after a 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 Israeli Arab 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.

Police later said four minors were arrested over rioting in the northern Arab city. “The riots included attempts to block the entrance to the city, firing fireworks, throwing stones at the forces and burning tires in the middle of the road,” police said in a statement.

Clashes and unrest broke out 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.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, a total of 57 Palestinians were hurt amid the violence on Friday. One Palestinian who was seriously hurt amid the morning riots 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 fell over after hurling stones. “There is no evidence of injury from live ammunition,” the hospital said in a statement.

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 for medical treatment.

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.

Palestinians chant slogans and wave Hamas flags after Friday prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan near the Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 22, 2022. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

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.

Israeli police arrest a Palestinian during clashes at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on April 22, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

On Thursday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said that “we are still at the beginning of the battle” and warned Israel over the Temple Mount.

His comments came after Israel and Gaza-based terrorists clashed in the largest exchange of fire since last year’s fighting, with the military carrying out air raids in the Strip in response to rocket fire and the launch of anti-aircraft missiles. Another rocket was launched from the Strip on Friday night.

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.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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