Approximately 36 rockets fired from Gaza following the violent clash, claim Israeli media
Rabat – A large-scale clash between local police and Israeli far-right protesters and Palestinian counter-protesters has sparked a new round of violence. A substantial street brawl unfolded on Friday, April 23, as Jerusalem police attempted to separate a mob of far-right Israeli demonstrators from a Palestinian counter-protest that formed near Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem.
A large crowd of Israel’s ultra-conservative Lehava group marched through Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs,” which prompted a crowd of Palestinians to gather near the ancient Damascus Gate. The two crowds of protesters appear to have taken to the street following weeks of escalating small-scale confrontations and provocations between local Palestinians and Israelis.
Weeks of tensions resulted in a tense atmosphere as the far-right Lehava protesters made their way towards Jerusalem’s old city the Palestinians met them. The counter-protesters attempted to stop the far-right demonstration from reaching Jerusalem’s Islamic holy sites.
Israeli police attempted to keep the two crowds separated, prompting violent confrontations with both groups, resulting in 20 injured officers and 50 arrests. The far-right Israelis threw stones and bottles at police while Palestinian counter-protesters used firecrackers and set alight trashcans.
The violence did not end there. Israeli media reported that 36 rockets fired from Gaza following the violent clash in East Jerusalem. Israel’s Iron Dome system intercepted six of the rockets, two rockets landed inside Israeli towns while the remaining 28 landed outside residential areas, according to the local Israeli television station Channel 13.
Israeli centrist Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid linked the renewed rocket fire to Iran, telling the Jerusalem Post that “Hamas must pay a heavy price for breaking the quiet.” Hamas officials meanwhile described Israeli retaliation for the rocket fire as a “desperate attempt to break the willpower of our people and our continued steadfastness.”
Local UN Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland called for calm following the violence as it appears this Ramadan could see a renewed conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.