Palestinians waved Hamas flags during Ramadan prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, where tens of thousands of worshipers gathered for the last Friday of the Muslim holy month.
Video showed throngs of people on the compound, some of whom were waving the green flag of Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Gaza Strip.
Some worshipers also reportedly chanted in support of Hamas and called for it to carry out attacks on Israel.
“We are all Hamas, waiting for your orders commander Mohammed Deif. Hamas — shoot a rocket at Tel Aviv tonight,” they were quoted as chanting by Channel 13 news, referring to the head of the terror movement’s armed wing.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 7, 2021
Hebrew media estimated turnout for afternoon prayers at over 70,000 worshipers.
There were no reports of clashes at the flashpoint Temple Mount, holy to both Jews and Muslims. Ramadan normally sees increased tensions around the Old City.
Police had geared up for possible unrest around the Old City, after a night of violent clashes involving Jewish extremists and Palestinians in the nearby East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
The clashes came amid recent tensions over the pending eviction of four Palestinian families in the neighborhood as part of a long legal battle with right-wing Jewish Israelis trying to acquire property in the neighborhood.
On Tuesday, Deif warned Israel would pay a “heavy price” if the evictions went ahead, raised fears of a wider conflict could be sparked as Hamas and other factions in Gaza warn of renewed violence over the issue.
Tensions in Jerusalem, specifically around the Old City, reached a boiling point last month after police prevented people from congregating outside Damascus Gate at the start of Ramadan, which Arabs said was an inflammatory move that obstructed a long-held tradition of gathering at the site during the Muslim holy month. Authorities later canceled the policy.
After some Palestinians filmed videos in which they attacked ultra-Orthodox passersby, the Jewish supremacist Lehava group responded by marching through Jerusalem’s downtown calling for “Death to Arabs” and searching for Palestinians to attack.
Additionally, tensions have also soared in the West Bank over the past week and on Friday three Palestinians opened fire at Border Police near a military base. Israeli forces shot two of the assailants dead and critically wounded the third.
All three attackers identified with Hamas, the Kan public broadcaster reported, citing Palestinian sources.
Officials have said they were planning a major attack, possibly in Jerusalem.
The incident came a day after the funeral of Yehuda Guetta, a 19-year-old student who was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting attack at Tapuah junction in the West Bank earlier this week, and who died of his injuries on Wednesday night.
The terror suspect, Muntasir Shalabi, 47, was arrested on Wednesday night in the central West Bank village of Silwad by Israeli security forces.
The IDF had already bolstered its forces in the West Bank for the month of Ramadan, a period that regularly sees an uptick in violence.
Meanwhile, the past two days have seen the launches of balloon-borne incendiary devices from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip resume, sparking blazes in southern Israel.
Agencies contributed to this report.