PHOTO: Israel security forces detain Palestinian protesters near the al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday
The Palestinian organization Hamas has called for another “Day of Rage” in the divided city of Jerusalem, following a series of incidents between Israel’s security forces and protesters this week.
Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, called for demonstrations “in defense of the al-Aqsa Mosque” on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Tension in Jerusalem have been high ever since the end of Israel’s military operations in Gaza in summer 2014, and they have intersected with local disputes in the West Bank over Israeli occupation.
On Monday, Israeli security forces arrested a man near Temple after he reportedly attempted to attack a Jewish visitor to the site. Less than 24 hours earlier, at least five Palestinian demonstrators were arrested in clashes which began after Israeli soldiers prevented a Muslim funeral procession from entering the compound.
At least 17 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were wounded in the incident, which led to the temporary closure of the site for noon prayers. Further clashes followed occurred in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat and Issawiya neighborhoods. Claiming that they faced a barrage of Molotov cocktails and stones, Israeli security forces employed tear gas to disperse crowds.
The situation on Temple Mount often serves as a litmus test for Israeli-Palestinian tensions through Jerusalem and the West Bank. While incidents over the past 24 hours were likely related to the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’av, commemorating the destruction of Jewish Temples in 586 BCE and 70 CE, they could signal an escalation of violence through the summer.
The call for the “Day of Rage” is likely a renewed attempt by Hamas to regain Palestinian public support, dented by the cost of last summer’s war with Israel and rivalry between Hamas and other factions. The organization has been crippled by Israeli arrest raids over the past several months.
To stifle Hamas’ campaign, Israeli security forces are likely to increase the scale and scope of arrest raids in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Those accused of stone-throwing and other acts of violence will be detained and punished to the utmost extent of new criminal codes which could lead to years in prison.