‘Anti-feminist’ vandals in Israel deface images of women

‘Anti-feminist’ vandals in Israel deface images of women

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In this July 1, 2021, file photo provided by the The Lonka Project, people look at the defaced portrait of Holocaust survivor Peggy Parnass, outside Jerusalem City Hall, where it is on display as part of an exhibit that tells … more >

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By Laurie Kellman

Associated Press

Friday, October 1, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) — The joyful glint in Peggy Parnass’ eyes is so sharp it can be seen from the walls of Jerusalem‘s bustling Old City. Posted across the street at the gateway to City Hall, twin images of the Holocaust survivor and activist gaze out at the ancient warren of holy monuments of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

But just outside this center of spirituality, someone saw her image as a problem. Five times since the photos of Parnass were posted as part of an exhibition that began in April, vandals – widely believed to be ultra-Orthodox extremists – spray-painted over her eyes and mouth.

The graffiti was cleaned each time, leaving Parnass smiling again. For many Israelis, however, the short-term fix highlighted a familiar pattern that’s all the more painful because the destruction is coming not from enemies across Israel‘s borders but from within.

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“It’s not anti-Semitic,” said Jim Hollander, the curator of The Lonka Project art installation at Safra Square. “This is anti-feminist.”

For all of its modernity, military firepower and high-tech know-how, Israel has for decades been unable to keep images of women from being defaced in some public spaces. Billboards showing women — including soccer players, musicians and young girls — have been repeatedly defaced and torn down by religious extremists in Jerusalem and other cities with large ultra-Orthodox populations over the past 20 years.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was erased from a 2015 photograph of world leaders in Paris published by an ultra-Orthodox newspaper.

The pattern is especially uncomfortable now.

“This is not Kabul, this is Jerusalem,” said Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, a Jerusalem deputy mayor. “This is a concerted campaign by radicals to erase women from the public space, which belongs to all of us.”

The double photo of 94-year-old Parnass, who lives in Germany, is posted on an outside wall of Jerusalem‘s City Hall complex.

Hollander said he specifically chose it among dozens of others posted around the complex to hang in the marquee spot because it projects vitality, perseverance and survival across one of Israel‘s most famous expanses. Its central location makes it visible to thousands every day.

The vandalism is widely blamed on a small number of fringe members of the insular ultra-Orthodox community, which emphasizes modesty among women and has traditionally carried outsized influence in Israeli politics. The photo is posted next to a street that borders an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood and is a popular walkway to the Old City’s Western Wall, the holiest Jewish prayer site.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews make up about 12.6% of Israel‘s population of 9.3 million. That community’s population is growing faster than those of other Israeli Jews and Arabs, according to the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan Jerusalem think tank. A majority of Jerusalem‘s Jewish community is ultra-Orthodox, the institute said.

There is a difference, one expert cautioned, between the more pragmatic mainstream ultra-Orthodox Judaism and the vandals defacing photos of women.

“In the mainstream, they know that the world outside is functioning in a different way,” said Gilad Malach, who leads the ultra-Orthodox program at the Israel Democracy Institute. “And they know that in some situations, they need to cooperate with that.”

In the mainstream Orthodox community, some women have begun to push back on social media.

“The men aren’t in charge there,” said Kerry Bar-Cohn, 48, an Orthodox chiropractor and performer who a few years ago started posting YouTube videos of herself singing children’s songs. Recently, she tried to publish an ad in a local circular with her photo on it, and was refused.

“It’s straight-out discrimination,” said Bar-Cohn, wife of a rabbi and a mother of four. “I was thinking I want to sue them, but No. 1, who has the time? And No. 2, you don’t want to be that person.”

Advocates say erasing women carries dire societal risks.

“You don’t see women, you don’t hear their needs and their needs are not met,” said Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, 46.

Keats Jaskoll recently launched a subscription-only photo bank of what she calls “positive” images of Orthodox women called Chochmat Nashim, or “women’s wisdom.” The idea is to sell images of women that are acceptable to an Orthodox audience and better understood by people in general.

None of these initiatives has halted the constant wave of vandalism.

The Israel Religious Action Center, which is connected to the liberal Reform movement of Judaism, has tracked the vandalism and other attacks on women’s images for five years and filed a court petition to compel the city of Jerusalem to crack down.

Over time, the municipality has responded by saying it is engaged in “massive, effective and focused enforcement” of city bylaws against vandalism, but it acknowledged difficulty in collecting testimony and prosecuting suspects.

“The Jerusalem municipality has and will continue to condemn any damage to public images and deals with the problem if appears on the spot,” the city said in a statement.

Police say they investigate all complaints of vandalism and property damage and try to find those responsible, but had no information about the Parnass case.

By refusing or being unable to crack down, “the state sponsors this practice,” said Ori Narov, an attorney for IRAC. “We keep getting this impression that they keep making excuses,” ranging from a shortage of labor to even more limits due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The municipality said the Parnass photos have been restored and it has increased patrols around City Hall.

Parnass’ niece, Keren-Or Peled, who lives in Israel, says Parnass has been told what happened. After her photos were cleaned for a third time, Peled traveled to Jerusalem to take a photo to send to her aunt.

By the time Peled got there, however, the set of photos had been defaced again. She helped clean it herself.

“They paint over your picture time and time again because you are a woman,” Peled wrote to her aunt in an article published in Haaretz. ”A beautiful, strong, confident 94-year-old woman.”

—-

Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion contributed.

Palestinians, settlers clash in tense Jerusalem neighborhood

Palestinians, settlers clash in tense Jerusalem neighborhood

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Israeli security forces take positions during clashes with Palestinians in front of the Dome of the Rock Mosque at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, Friday, June 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean) more >

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By Laurie Kellman and Joseph Krauss

Associated Press

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinians and Jewish settlers hurled stones, chairs and fireworks at each other overnight in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood where settler groups are trying to evict several Palestinian families, officials said Tuesday.

The threatened evictions fueled protests and clashes in the runup to last month’s 11-day Gaza war and pose a test for Israel‘s new governing coalition, which includes three pro-settler parties but is hoping to sideline the Palestinian issue to avoid internal divisions.

Israeli police and border officials said they arrested four suspects in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. It was unclear who started the brawl. The officials said someone launched fireworks at police forces and residents’ houses and that “several Molotov cocktails were thrown and stones were thrown.” One woman was reportedly injured when she was hit in the back by a stone, police said.

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The Red Crescent emergency service said its crews treated 20 Palestinians, including 16 suffering from pepper spray and tear gas and others wounded by rubber-coated bullets. Two other people were wounded, including an elderly man who was hit in the head, it said. 

The Red Crescent said settlers threw stones at one of its ambulances and Israeli forces sprayed skunk water on a second ambulance belonging to the service. 

The eruption of violence is the latest friction in Sheikh Jarrah, where weeks of unrest captured international attention ahead of the 11-day Israel-Hamas war last month. The cease-fire took effect on May 21, but the long-running campaign by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families continues.

And so the cycle of tension endures, in a stark early test for Israel‘s new coalition government, which is just over a week old. 

At the helm under a rotation agreement is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Yamina party. In two years, he’ll be replaced by Yair Lapid, leader of centrist Yesh Atid. And leading the opposition is Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, ousted from the premiership after holding the post for 12 years. 

An intervention by Israel‘s attorney general at the height of the unrest has put the most imminent evictions on hold. But rights groups say evictions could still proceed in the coming months as international attention wanes, potentially igniting another round of bloodshed.

The settlers have been waging a decades-long campaign to evict the families from densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods in the so-called Holy Basin just outside the walls of the Old City, in one of the most sensitive parts of east Jerusalem.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Israel views the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The settlers say the homes are built on land that was owned by Jews prior to the 1948 war surrounding Israel‘s creation. Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim such property, a right denied to Palestinians who lost lands and homes in the same conflict. 

___

Kellman reported from Tel Aviv, Israel.

Hamas fires rockets deep into Israel, escalating tensions

Hamas fires rockets deep into Israel, escalating tensions

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Israelis run to shelters as air attack sirens goes off during a Jerusalem Day march, in Jerusalem, Monday, May 10, 2021. Explosions have been heard in Jerusalem after air raid sirens sounded. The sirens came Monday, shortly after the Hamas … more >

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By Ilan Ben Zion and Joseph Krauss

Associated Press

Monday, May 10, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets toward Jerusalem on Monday, setting off air raid sirens throughout the city, after hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli police at a flashpoint religious site in the contested holy city. 

The early-evening attack drastically escalated what already are heightened tensions throughout the region following weeks of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem.

Shortly after the sirens sounded, explosions could be heard in Jerusalem. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The Israeli Army said there was an initial burst of seven rockets, one was intercepted, and rocket fire was continuing.

SEE ALSO: More than 300 Palestinians hurt in Jerusalem holy site clash

Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas‘ military wing, said the rocket attack was a response to what he called Israeli “crimes and aggression” in Jerusalem. “This is a message the enemy has to understand well,” he said.

He threatened more attacks if Israel again invades the sacred Al-Aqsa compound or carries out evictions of Palestinian families in a neighborhood of east Jerusalem.

Earlier, Israeli police firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians at the iconic compound. 

More than a dozen tear gas canisters and stun grenades landed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, as police and protesters faced off inside the walled compound that surrounds it, said an Associated Press photographer at the scene. Smoke rose in front of the mosque and the iconic golden-domed shrine on the site, and rocks littered the nearby plaza. Inside one area of the compound, shoes and debris lay scattered over ornate carpets.

In an apparent attempt to avoid further confrontation, Israeli authorities changed the planned route of a march by ultranationalist Jews through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The marchers were ordered to avoid the area and sent on a different route circumventing the Muslim Quarter on their way to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

But tensions remained high.

More than 305 Palestinians were hurt, including 228 who went to hospitals and clinics for treatment, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Seven of the injured were in serious condition. Police said 21 officers were hurt, including three who were hospitalized. Israeli paramedics said seven Israeli civilians were also hurt. 

The confrontation was the latest after weeks of mounting tensions between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the Old City of Jerusalem, the emotional center of their conflict. There have been almost nightly clashes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, already a time of heightened religious sensitivities. 

Most recently, the tensions have been fueled by the planned eviction of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem where Israeli settlers have waged a lengthy legal battle to take over properties. Monday was expected to be particularly tense since Israelis mark it as Jerusalem Day to celebrate their capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war.

On Monday, two anti-Arab members of Israel‘s parliament, surrounded by an entourage and police, pushed through a line of protesters in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Several Arab members of parliament were among those trying to stop Betzalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, amid shouting and jostling. Smotrich and Ben Gvir eventually got to the other side of a police barricade and entered a house already inhabited by settlers.

Over the past few days, hundreds of Palestinians and several dozen police officers have been hurt in clashes in and around the Old City, including the sacred compound, which is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The compound which has been the trigger for rounds of Israel-Palestinian violence in the past, is Islam’s third-holiest site and considered Judaism’s holiest.

An AP photographer at the scene said that early Monday morning, protesters had barricaded gates to the walled compound with wooden boards and scrap metal. Sometime after 7. a.m., clashes erupted, with those inside throwing stones at police deployed outside. Police entered the compound, firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and stun grenades.

At some point during the morning about 400 people, both young protesters and older worshippers, were inside the carpeted Al-Aqsa Mosque. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades into the mosque.

Police said protesters hurled stones at officers and onto an adjoining roadway near the Western Wall, where thousands of Israeli Jews had gathered to pray.

The tensions in Jerusalem have threatened to reverberate throughout the region.

Before Monday’s rocket attack on Jerusalem, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Gaza, Palestinian militants had fired several barrages of rockets into southern Israel. Protesters allied with the ruling Hamas militant group have launched dozens of incendiary balloons into Israel, setting off fires across the southern part of the country.

The rare strike on Jerusalem came moments after Hamas had set a deadline for Israel to remove its forces from the mosque compound and Sheikh Jarrah and release Palestinians detained in the latest clashes. 

Hamas, an Islamic militant group that seeks Israel‘s destruction, has fought three wars with Israel since it seized power in Gaza in 2007. The group possesses a vast arsenal of missiles and rockets capable of striking virtually anywhere in Israel.

The rocket strike on Jerusalem was a significant escalation and raised the likelihood of a tough Israeli response.

After several days of Jerusalem confrontations, Israel has come under growing international criticism for its heavy-handed actions at the site, particularly during Ramadan.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled closed consultations on the situation Monday. 

Late Sunday, the U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat. A White House statement said that Sullivan called on Israel to “pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm” and expressed the U.S.’s “serious concerns” about the ongoing violence and planned evictions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against the criticism Monday, saying Israel is determined to ensure the rights of worship for all and that this “requires from time to time stand up and stand strong as Israeli police and our security forces are doing now.” 

In other violence, Palestinian protesters hurled rocks at an Israeli vehicle driving just outside the Old City walls. CCTV footage released by the police showed a crowd surrounding the car and pelting it with rocks when it swerved off the road and into a stone barrier and a bystander.

Police said two passengers were injured.

The day began with police announcing that Jews would be barred from visiting the holy site on Jerusalem Day, which is marked with a flag-waving parade through the Old City that is widely perceived by Palestinians as a provocative display in the contested city. 

But just as the parade was about to begin, police said they were altering the route at the instruction of political leaders. Several thousand people, many of them from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, were participating.

In the 1967 war in which Israel captured east Jerusalem, it also took the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It later annexed east Jerusalem and considers the entire city its capital. The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future state, with east Jerusalem as their capital.

The recent round of violence began when Israel blocked off a popular spot where Muslims traditionally gather each night during Ramadan at the end of their daylong fast. Israel later removed the restrictions, but clashes quickly resumed amid tensions over the planned eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.

Israel‘s Supreme Court postponed a key ruling Monday that could have forced dozens of Palestinians from their homes, citing the “circumstances.”

In tense Jerusalem, flag-waving Israeli march to go ahead

In tense Jerusalem, flag-waving Israeli march to go ahead

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An injured Palestinian demonstrator is helped during a protest against the planned evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty) more >

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By ILAN BEN ZION

Associated Press

Sunday, May 9, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) – Police on Sunday gave the go-ahead to the annual Jerusalem Day parade, a flag-waving display of Israeli claims to all of the contested city, despite days of unrest and soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a flashpoint holy site.

Monday’s parade was scheduled to pass through Jerusalem‘s Old City, part of east Jerusalem, which was captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. The march was approved amid ongoing clashes between police and Palestinians in the Old City, the emotional epicenter of the long-running conflict, and in a nearby Arab neighborhood where Jewish settlers are trying to evict dozens of Palestinians from their homes.

Before dawn Sunday, thousands of Muslim worshippers skirmished anew with police at the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City. Videos on social media showed Palestinians hurling water bottles and rocks at officers, who fired stun grenades.

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Amos Gilad, a former senior defense official, told Army Radio that the Jerusalem Day parade should be canceled or rerouted away from the Old City’s Damascus Gate, saying “the powder keg is burning and can explode at any time.” Israel‘s public broadcaster Kan said the final route of the parade had not yet been decided.

The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. It has been a tinderbox for serious violence in the past.

Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in violent confrontations with police in Jerusalem overnight from Saturday to Sunday, when Muslims marked Laylat al-Qadr, or the “night of destiny,” the holiest period of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

On Friday, more than 200 Palestinians were wounded in clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem. The violence, along with the planned evictions in east Jerusalem, have drawn condemnations from Israel’s Arab allies and expressions of concern from the United States, Europe and the United Nations.

The clashes in east Jerusalem resumed late Sunday night, as Israeli police faced off with protesters again. Protesters shouted at police and pelted them with rocks and bottles while police fired stun grenades and used a water cannon to disperse crowds. Palestinian medics said two protesters were hurt.

The violence has threatened to spread.

Late Sunday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets into Israel, setting off air raid sirens in the city of Ashkelon, the Israeli military said. It said one rocket was intercepted, and there were no reports of damage or injuries.

Earlier in the day, Israel carried out an airstrike on a post belonging to Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group in response to another rocket attack.

Gazan protesters affiliated with Hamas militant group also launched incendiary balloons into southern Israel during the day, setting off dozens of fires that closed roads in the area.

In Jerusalem, meanwhile, Israeli police clashed with hundreds of Arab students at Israel’s Hebrew University, using stun grenades to disperse the crowd. Police said protesters threw stones and three officers were wounded, and three people were arrested. Police said 15 people were arrested at another protest in the northern city of Haifa.

Pope Francis said he was following the events in Jerusalem with worry. “I pray that it be a place of encounter and not of clashes, a place of prayer and peace,’’ Francis told the public gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his traditional Sunday noon remarks.

“I invite all to find shared solutions so that the multi-religious and multi-cultural identity of the Holy City is respected,” Francis said. “Violence only generates violence,” he added, calling for an end to the clashes.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who acts as custodian of Jerusalem‘s Muslim holy sites, condemned what he called “Israeli violations and escalating practices” and urged Israel to halt its “provocations against Jerusalemites.” The statement issued by the palace said he also called on Israel to halt the planned evictions in east Jerusalem.

In the Jordanian capital of Amman, some 700 protesters marched near Israel‘s embassy, calling on the government to deport the ambassador and annul a 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Security forces prevented protesters from reaching the embassy, and about 10 protesters were arrested.

Both Jordan and Egypt, the first two countries to reach peace agreements with Israel, said they had summoned top Israeli diplomats for meetings to voice their concerns.

Addressing a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel “will not allow any extremists to destabilize the calm in Jerusalem. We will enforce law and order decisively and responsibly.”

“We will continue to maintain freedom of worship for all faiths, but we will not allow violent disturbances,” he said.

On Sunday, COGAT, Israel’s defense ministry body controlling crossings with the Gaza Strip, said it had suspended entry of 350 Gaza merchants until further notice because of the upsurge in violence. It also closed Gaza’s waters to local fishermen, a common move in times of heightened tensions.

Police spokesman Eli Levi said Sunday that there were no plans to call off the Jerusalem Day parade, despite the rising friction and the potential for violence. He said police were constantly assessing the situation.

Monday afternoon’s march marks Israel‘s capture of east Jerusalem and is typically attended by hardline nationalist Israelis, who wend their way through the Damascus Gate of the Old City and through the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

The annual event is widely perceived as provocative, and this year’s parade comes at a particularly volatile time.

Adding to the tensions has been legal proceedings by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

The Supreme Court had been expected to issue a decision Monday – coinciding with Jerusalem Day. But on Sunday, the court, citing the current “circumstances,” postponed the decision and said a new date would be set in the next 30 days.

Palestinians and international rights groups portray the planned evictions as an ongoing campaign by Israel to drive Palestinians from traditionally Arab neighborhoods, especially in the heart of Jerusalem. Israel has cast the Sheikh Jarrah evictions case as a mere real estate dispute.

The neighborhood has been the scene of regular confrontations, particularly during Ramadan, between Palestinian residents and their supporters on one side, and Israeli police and ultra-nationalist Israeli activists on the other.

The flare-up in hostilities comes at a crucial point in Israel’s political crisis after longtime leader Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition. His opponents are now working to build an alternate government. If they succeed, Netanyahu would be pushed to the opposition for the first time in 12 years.

___

AP correspondent Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.

Beefed-up Israel police clash with Palestinians in Jerusalem

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Israeli border police officers deploy during clashes with Palestinian protesters next to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s old city, Friday, May 7. 2021. Palestinians protested over Israel’s threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, … more >

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By Josef Federman and Fares Akram

Associated Press

Saturday, May 8, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police on Saturday clashed with Palestinian protesters outside Jerusalem‘s Old City during the holiest night of Ramadan in a show of force that threatened to deepen the holy city’s worst religious unrest in several years. Earlier, police blocked busloads of pilgrims headed to Jerusalem to worship.

Police defended their actions as security moves, but these were seen as provocations by Muslims who accuse Israel of threatening their freedom of worship. Competing claims to east Jerusalem, home to the city’s most sensitive holy sites, lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have triggered serious violence in the past.

The unrest came a day after violence in which Palestinian medics said more than 200 Palestinians were wounded in clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem. Friday’s violence drew condemnations from Israel’s Arab allies and calls for calm from the United States and Europe and the United Nations. The Arab League scheduled an emergency meeting on Monday.

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Early Sunday, the Israeli military said Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at the country’s south and it fell in an open area. There were no reports of damage or casualties.

Police chief Koby Shabtai said he had deployed more police in Jerusalem following Friday night’s clashes, which left 18 police officers wounded. After weeks of nightly violence, Israelis and Palestinians were bracing for more conflict in the coming days.

“The right to demonstrate will be respected but public disturbances will be met with force and zero tolerance. I call on everyone to act responsibly and with restraint,” Shabtai said.

Saturday night was “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Islamic authorities estimated 90,000 people gathered for intense nighttime prayers at Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest site in Islam.

A large crowd of protesters screamed “God is great” outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, and police were pelted with rocks and water bottles. Police patrols fired stun grenades as they moved through the area, and a police truck periodically fired a water cannon.

Palestinian medics said 64 Palestinians were wounded, mostly by rubber bullets, stun grenades or beatings, among them a woman whose face was bloodied. Eleven people were hospitalized, they said.

One man with a small boy yelled at the police as they marched by. “You should be ashamed!” he said.

Earlier, police reported clashes in the Old City, near Al-Aqsa, and in the nearby east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where dozens of Palestinians are fighting attempts by Israeli settlers to evict them from their homes. Police reported several arrests, and said one officer was struck in the face with a rock.

Earlier Saturday, police stopped a convoy of buses that were filled with Arab citizens on the main highway heading to Jerusalem for Ramadan prayers. Israel’s public broadcaster Kan said police stopped the buses for a security check.

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, and travelers, upset that they were stopped without explanation on a hot day, exited the buses and blocked the highway in protest. Kan showed footage of the protesters praying, chanting slogans and marching along the highway toward Jerusalem. The road was reopened several hours later.

Ibtasam Maraana, an Arab member of parliament, accused police of a “terrible attack” on freedom of religion. “Police: Remember that they are citizens, not enemies,” she wrote on Twitter.

The current wave of protests broke out at the beginning of Ramadan three weeks ago when Israel restricted gatherings at a popular meeting spot outside Jerusalem’s Old City. Israel removed the restrictions, briefly calming the situation, but protests have reignited in recent days over the threatened evictions in east Jerusalem, which is claimed by both sides in their decades-old conflict.

Other recent developments, including the postponement of Palestinian elections, deadly violence in which a Palestinian teenager, two Palestinian gunmen and a young Israeli man were killed in separate incidents in the West Bank, and the election to Israel’s parliament of a far-right Jewish nationalist party, also have contributed to the tense atmosphere. One right-wing lawmaker, Itamar Ben-Gvir, briefly set up an outdoor “office” in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood last week, infuriating residents.

On Sunday evening, Jewish Israelis begin marking “Jerusalem Day,” a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of east Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city. On Monday, an Israeli court is expected to issue a verdict on the planned evictions in Sheikh Jarrah.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza – territories the Palestinians want for their future state – in the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally, and views the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians view east Jerusalem – which includes major holy sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims – as their capital, and its fate is one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam. It is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the biblical temples. It has long been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In recent days, protests have grown over Israel‘s threatened eviction in Sheikh Jarrah of dozens of Palestinians embroiled in a long legal battle with Israeli settlers trying to acquire property in the neighborhood.

The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about both the violence and the threatened evictions. The so-called Quartet of Mideast peace makers, which includes the U.S., European Union, Russia and United Nations, also expressed concern.

Egypt and Jordan, which made peace with Israel decades ago, condemned Israel‘s actions, as did the Gulf countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, two of the four Arab countries that signed U.S.-brokered normalization agreements with Israel last year. The UAE expressed “strong condemnation” of Israel‘s storming of Al-Aqsa.

In a call to Palestine TV late Friday, President Mahmoud Abbas praised the “courageous stand” of the protesters and said Israel bore full responsibility for the violence. Abbas last week postponed planned parliamentary elections, citing Israeli restrictions in east Jerusalem for the delay.

Israel‘s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the Palestinians of seizing on the threatened evictions, which it described as a “real-estate dispute between private parties,” in order to incite violence.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and opposes Israel‘s existence, has called for a new intifada, or uprising.

Late Saturday, several dozen protesters gathered along Gaza‘s volatile frontier with Israel, burning tires and throwing small explosives. Israeli forces fired tear gas at the crowd. No injuries were immediately reported.

In an interview with a Hamas-run TV station, the group’s top leader Ismail Haniyeh warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to “play with fire” in Jerusalem.

“Neither you, nor your army and police, can win this battle,” he said.

___

Akram reported from Gaza City, Gaza Strip.

Palestinians, Israel police clash at Al-Aqsa Mosque; 53 hurt

Palestinians, Israel police clash at Al-Aqsa Mosque; 53 hurt

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Demonstrators burn representations of Israeli and U.S flags during the annual Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, Day rally, with the Azadi (Freedom) monument tower seen at right, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, May 7, 2021. Iran held a limited anti-Israeli rally amid the … more >

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By Joseph Krauss

Associated Press

Friday, May 7, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian worshippers clashed with Israeli police on Friday evening at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City as weeks-long tensions between Israel and the Palestinians over Jerusalem soared again.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 53 people were wounded in clashes with police there and elsewhere in Jerusalem, including 23 who were hospitalized. It says most were wounded in the face and eyes by rubber-coated bullets and shrapnel from stun grenades.

The clashes were the latest in a deadly day that saw Israeli forces shoot and kill two Palestinians after three men opened fire on an Israeli base in the occupied West Bank.

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They erupted when Israeli police deployed heavily as Muslims were performing evening prayers at Al-Aqsa during the holy month of Ramadan. Video footage from the scene shows worshippers throwing chairs, shoes and rocks toward the police and officers responding by opening fire. Israeli police also closed gates leading to Al-Aqsa inside the walled Old City.

Dozens of Palestinians in an east Jerusalem neighborhood are at risk of being evicted following a long legal battle with Israeli settlers, and Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli police in the city on a nightly basis since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The unrest has drawn attention from across the region, with neighboring Jordan warning Israel against further “provocative” steps, and Iran seizing on the sensitivities around Jerusalem and encouraging the violence.

In the attack on Friday morning, Israeli police said three attackers fired on the base near the northern West Bank town of Jenin. The Border Police and an Israeli soldier returned fire, killing two of the men and wounding the third, who was evacuated to a hospital.

Some 70,000 worshippers attended the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa, the Islamic endowment that oversees the site said. Thousands protested afterwards, waving the green flags of the Islamic militant group Hamas and chanting pro-Hamas slogans before dispersing peacefully.

Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more violence in the coming days.

Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Worshippers will gather for intense nighttime prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem‘s Old City, a flashpoint site sacred to both Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

Sunday night is also the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of east Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city. On Monday, an Israeli court is expected to issue a verdict on the evictions.

Israel‘s archenemy Iran was meanwhile marking its own Quds, or Jerusalem, Day on Friday. The national holiday typically features anti-Israel protests and fiery speeches by Iranian leaders predicting Israel‘s demise.

“The downward and declining movement of the Zionist regime has begun and will not stop,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address. He called for continuing armed “resistance” in the Palestinian territories and urged Muslim nations support it.

This year, Ramadan has coincided with an uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence focused on Jerusalem, where Palestinian protesters have repeatedly clashed with Israeli police over restrictions on outdoor gatherings at the Damascus Gate leading into the Old City.

On Thursday, Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a drive-by shooting earlier this week in the West Bank that killed an Israeli and wounded two others.

On Wednesday, Israeli troops shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian during a confrontation near the West Bank city of Nablus. The military said several Palestinians had thrown firebombs toward soldiers.

In recent days, protesters have scuffled with police and settlers over the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem. Several Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah have been embroiled in a long-running legal battle with Israeli settler groups trying to acquire property in the neighborhood north of the Old City.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza – territories the Palestinians want for their future state – in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and views the entire city as its capital.

The Palestinians view east Jerusalem – which includes major holy sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims – as their capital, and its fate is one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict.

Neighboring Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1994 and is the custodian of Al-Aqsa, weighed in on Friday, saying “Israel‘s continuation of its illegal practices and provocative steps” in the city is a “dangerous game.”

“Building and expanding settlements, confiscating lands, demolishing homes and deporting Palestinians from their homes are illegal practices that perpetuate the occupation and undermine the chances of achieving a just and comprehensive peace, which is a regional and international necessity,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi tweeted.

The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has egged on the violence, and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired rockets in support of the protesters.

Earlier this week, the shadowy commander of Hamas’ armed wing, Mohammed Deif, released his first public statement in seven years, in which he warned Israel it would pay a “heavy price” if it evicts Palestinians from their homes.

___

Associated Press writers Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

UAE urges Israel to stop Jerusalem violence in rare rebuke

UAE urges Israel to stop Jerusalem violence in rare rebuke

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Israeli Border Police patrol the Old City of Jerusalem as worshippers arrive for Friday prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on Friday, April 23, 2021. Israeli police say 44 people were arrested and 20 officers were wounded in … more >

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By AYA BATRAWY

Associated Press

Monday, April 26, 2021

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The United Arab Emirates on Monday warned that any moves to change the historic identity of Jerusalem threaten peace, and called on Israel to put an end to violence following the latest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the city.

The statement was a rare rebuke of Israel by the UAE, which has welcomed tens of thousands of Israeli tourists and signed a slew of deals to strengthen bilateral ties since the administration of President Donald Trump brokered a historic and surprise deal to normalize relations between the two countries some seven months ago. The UAE move laid the path for Bahrain and Sudan to also formalize ties with Israel.

The UAE Foreign Ministry said in a statement, carried on the Emirates’ state news agency, that it was concerned over ”acts of violence committed by right-wing extremist groups in the occupied East Jerusalem.” The ministry called on Israeli authorities to “assume responsibility toward de-escalation and putting an end to all aggressions and practices that perpetuate tension and hostility.”

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The UAE cautioned it was necessary to preserve Jerusalem‘s historical identity and maintain “maximum self-restraint to avoid the region slipping into new levels of instability in a way that threatens peace.”

The immediate spark for the unrest was Israel’s decision to barricade a plaza outside of Jerusalem’s Old City where Palestinian residents traditionally gather in the evenings during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The move deepened Palestinian concerns about Israel‘s control over east Jerusalem, which is home to sacred Jewish and Muslim sites.

Hundreds of young Palestinian took to the streets each evening to protest the barricades. Crowds hurled stones, firebombs and other objects at police, while officers used stun grenades and water cannons to disperse them.

The Israeli decision appeared to have been reversed late Sunday, when the barricades were suddenly removed. The violence had escalated to cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas group.

Also last week, a far-right Israeli group called Lehava staged a massive demonstration, with demonstrators chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Arabs Get Out,” just a few hundred meters (yards) from the Palestinian crowds.

Two other Mideast countries with longstanding diplomatic ties with Israel had earlier called on Israel to end the violence. Jordan, which acts as the custodian over Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, and Egypt urged Israel in a joint statement to “stop all attacks and provocative measures” in the city.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. The United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital under the Trump administration. Palestinians, however, claim east Jerusalem as the capital for a future Palestinian state.

Israeli police arrest dozens in night of chaos in Jerusalem

Israeli police arrest dozens in night of chaos in Jerusalem

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Palestinians run away as a stun grenades are fired by Israeli police during clashes at Damascus Gate just outside Jerusalem’s Old City, Thursday, April. 22, 2021. Palestinians clashed with Israeli police over restrictions on Ramadan gatherings ahead of a planned … more >

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By JOSEPH KRAUSS

Associated Press

Friday, April 23, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police say 44 people were arrested and 20 officers were wounded in a night of chaos in Jerusalem, where security forces separately clashed with Palestinians angry about Ramadan restrictions and Jewish extremists who held an anti-Arab march nearby.

Tensions have spiked in recent days in Jerusalem, which has long been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Residents braced for possible further unrest as police stepped up security and the U.S. Embassy appealed for calm.

In what seemed a retaliation for the incidents in Jerusalem, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired three rockets toward Israel late Friday. The Israeli military said two rockets fell near Gaza frontier and the third was intercepted by Israeli air defenses. No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the attack, which came hours after Hamas’ armed wing warned Israel “not to test” its patience.

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There were concerns the violence could reignite following Friday prayers at a major holy site in Jerusalem, but thousands of worshippers dispersed peacefully after Muslim religious leaders called for restraint. The Islamic militant group Hamas meanwhile staged demonstrations across Gaza reiterating its support for armed struggle.

Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police on a nightly basis since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The tensions began when police placed barricades outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, where Muslims traditionally gather to enjoy the evening after the daytime fast.

Late Thursday, hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones and bottles at police, who fired a water cannon and stun grenades to disperse them. Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in the melee.

Meanwhile, a far-right Jewish group known as Lahava led a march of hundreds of protesters chanting “Arabs get out!” toward the Damascus Gate. The show of force came in response to videos circulated on TikTok showing Palestinians slapping religious Jews at random. Other videos made in response to them appear to show Jews assaulting Arabs.

Police used metal barricades to halt the far-right protesters a few hundred meters (yards) from Damascus Gate. Later, they used water cannon, stun grenades and mounted police to push them back toward mostly Jewish west Jerusalem.

Videos circulated online showed smaller clashes and fires elsewhere in the city. One video showed what appeared to be a group of Palestinians beating an ultra-Orthodox Jew near Damascus Gate. They could be seen punching, kicking and throwing him to the ground before police chased them off.

The police statement did not specify whether those arrested were Palestinian or Jewish and did not refer to any specific instances of violence. The police did not immediately respond to a request for more details.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized by most of the international community. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Its fate has been one of the most divisive issues in the peace process, which ground to a halt more than a decade ago.

The U.S. Embassy said it was “deeply concerned” about the violence in recent days. “We hope all responsible voices will promote an end to incitement, a return to calm, and respect for the safety and dignity of everyone in Jerusalem,” it said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians attended weekly prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem‘s Old City on Friday. The site is the third holiest in Islam and the holiest for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, condemned the “police and settlers’ attack on Palestinians in Jerusalem” in his Friday sermon. But he called on worshippers to remain calm and not to give the other side an excuse to storm the compound. They dispersed peacefully after prayers and there were no immediate reports of unrest.

The sprawling hilltop compound has seen clashes on a number of occasions over the years and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, meanwhile staged dozens of protests across the territory expressing solidarity with Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem.

Addressing the protesters, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar condemned the decision of some Arab states to normalize relations with Israel last year and lashed out at the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank for continuing its security coordination with Israel.

“After a long series of protests and demonstrations, we have reached the conclusion that without weapons, we cannot liberate our land, protect our holy sites, bringing back our people to their land or maintain our dignity,” he said.

___

Associated Press reporters Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, and Ariel Schalit in Jerusalem contributed.

Israeli forces kill unarmed autistic Palestinian man

Israeli forces kill unarmed autistic Palestinian man

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Israeli police officers secure the area of Lion’s gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian near Jerusalem’s Old City who they had suspected was carrying a weapon but turned out to be … more >

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By JOSEPH KRAUSS

Associated Press

Saturday, May 30, 2020

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police shot dead an unarmed autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday after saying they suspected he was carrying a weapon.

The shooting drew broad condemnations and revived complaints alleging excessive force by Israeli security forces. On social media, some compared the shooting to police violence in the U.S.

Relatives identified the deceased man as Iyad Halak, 32. They said he suffered from autism and was heading to the school for students with special needs where he studied each day when he was shot.

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“They killed him in cold blood,” Halak’s mother, Rana, told Israel’s Channel 12 TV.

In a statement, Israeli police said they spotted a suspect “with a suspicious object that looked like a pistol.” When he failed to obey orders to stop, officers opened fire, the statement said. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld later said no weapon was found.

Channel 12 said members of Israel’s paramilitary border police force fired at Halak’s legs and chased him into a dead-end alley. It said a senior officer ordered a halt in fire as they entered the alley, but that a second officer did not listen and fired six or seven bullets from an M-16 rifle, killing Halak. The report said both officers were taken into custody and interrogated for several hours.

AP video from the scene showed three bullet holes in a white wall at the end of the alleyway.

Halak’s father, Kheiri, said police raided the family’s home after the shooting. “They found nothing,” he said, claiming that police had cursed his daughter when she became upset at them.

Lone Palestinian attackers with no clear links to armed groups have carried out a series of stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in recent years.

Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups have long accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force in some cases, either by killing individuals who could have been arrested or using lethal force when their lives were not in danger.

“We must resist the expected cover-up and make sure that the police will sit in jail,” Ayman Odeh, the leader of the main Arab party in parliament, wrote on Twitter. “Justice will be done only when the Halak family, their friends and the rest of the Palestinian people know freedom and independence.”

On social media, some pro-Palestinian activists compared the shooting to this week’s killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black Minnesota man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck. His death has set off violent protests across the U.S.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, whose daughter is autistic, said Halak’s death was “heartbreaking.”

“The death of a young person with special needs is heartbreaking and all of Israel bows their heads. This is not our way,” he tweeted.

In west Jerusalem, about 150 protesters, some pounding drums, gathered to demonstrate against police violence. “A violent policeman must stay inside,” they chanted in Hebrew. At a smaller protest in Tel Aviv, one poster read “Palestinian lives matter.”

The shooting came a day after Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank who they said had tried to ram them with his vehicle. No Israelis were wounded in either incident.

Saturday’s shooting occurred in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war along with the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians want all three territories for their future state.

Tensions have risen in recent weeks as Israel has pressed ahead with plans to annex large parts of the West Bank in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which strongly favors Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians. Netanyahu has said he plans on moving ahead with the plan in July.

The Palestinian Authority, which governs autonomous enclaves in the West Bank, said last week that it was no longer bound by past agreements with Israel and the United States and was cutting off all ties, including longstanding security coordination, to protest the annexation plan.

The Trump plan would allow the Palestinians to establish a capital on the outskirts of the city, beyond Israel’s separation barrier. It would grant them limited statehood in a cluster of enclaves surrounded by Israel, but only if they meet a long list of stringent conditions.

The annexation plan has also drawn widespread condemnations from Israeli allies in Europe and across the Arab world.