Fresh clashes at East Jerusalem flashpoint; 20 Palestinians, 1 Israeli wounded

Palestinian protesters and Jewish residents clashed late Monday in a volatile East Jerusalem neighborhood before police moved in to disperse the Palestinians, wounding at least 20.

Jewish residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood said protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Jewish homes, lightly wounding a pregnant woman who was hit in the head with a stone.

The neighborhood has been the scene of frequent clashes in recent weeks over the impending eviction of Palestinian families and the violence has spilled over into wider conflict in Jerusalem and beyond. The Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip used the clashes as a pretext to fire rockets at Jerusalem sparking a 11-day conflict with Israel.

After the protesters attacked a Jewish home, residents responded with rocks and pepper spray and a brawl broke out.

Israeli Border Guards in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on June 21, 2021, during clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Police then used riot dispersal means, including batons, tear gas, “skunk” water cannons and sponge-tipped bullets.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 20 Palestinians had been treated, including 3 for pepper spray, 13 from tear gas inhalation, two hit by sponge-tipped bullets, and two with wounds from being hit by batons.

The rescue service also accused Jewish residents of stoning an ambulance.

At least two Palestinians were arrested for throwing firebombs at Jewish homes.

Israeli security forces spray Palestinian protesters with “skunk” water in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on June 21, 2021, during clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.(AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

The pending Sheikh Jarrah evictions have sparked widespread anger among Palestinians and Arab Israelis and international condemnation.

They are based in part on a 1970 Israeli law that allows Jews to reclaim East Jerusalem land owned by Jews before 1948. No similar law exists for Palestinians who lost their homes during the 1948 war and the Knesset passed a law in 1950 barring them from reclaiming property lost.

According to Ir Amim, a left-wing human rights group focusing on Jerusalem, around 200 families in East Jerusalem are under similar threat of eviction, with cases slowly moving through administrative bodies and Israeli courts.

Palestinians and members of the international community accuse Israel of seeking to “Judaize” East Jerusalem by slowly evicting hundreds of families and replacing them with Jewish ones. Israel maintains that East Jerusalem is a part of its undivided capital and that the Jews moving into neighborhoods there do so legally.

Recent days have seen frequent clashes amid fears of renewed fighting with Hamas over the situation in the Holy City.

On Friday there were clashes during prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount compound.

Palestinian worshipers could be seen raising the Palestinian flag following the Friday prayers.

The clashes occurred after the Israel Defense Forces conducted airstrikes on Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip on Thursday night in response to ongoing arson attacks from the enclave.

Palestinians and Israel Police officers clash on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, on June 18, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

Last month’s round of fighting with the Gaza-based terror groups came following violent clashes in Jerusalem.

Palestinian terror groups tied May’s rocket fire from Gaza to unrest in the capital connected to both prayer on the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Paletinians chant slogans following Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, on June 18, 2021. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Since the fighting ended, Hamas has repeatedly warned that it could reopen hostilities over developments in Jerusalem, and has responded with increased belligerence to plans for the march.

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