Israeli police beefed up their forces on Jerusalem's Temple Mount amid social-media calls from Palestinians to protest there after Friday prayers and the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that ended 11 days of fighting.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians took part in Friday noon prayers on the Mount; while most left the compound quietly, some waved Palestinian flags. Half an hour after the prayers ended, a small police force entered the compound to confiscate the flags and disperse the crowd.
The police said in a statement that hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones and firebombs at the police. The Jerusalem District commander ordered his forces to enter the compound and "handle the protesters," the statement said. Palestinian witnesses, however, said that violence broke out only after the police entered the compound.
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The Jerusalem Police spokesperson said that they have since detained 16 suspects, 12 of whom are suspected of causing disturbances on the Temple Mount this afternoon. The statement added that this included one Palestinian who was suspected of throwing a firebomb, and another individual who waved national symbols from his vehicle, and then refused to stop at the police's request. Once he was stopped, he attacked a police officer.
The police said they are continuing their efforts to locate other suspects.
Overnight into Friday, spontaneous celebrations of the Gaza cease-fire broke out in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank. Several violent incidents were reported in East Jerusalem, such as shooting fireworks at a bus, hurling stones at passing vehicles, and even reports of gunshots, which were heard by Jewish witnesses.
As of now, police bar Jews from entering the Temple Mount as social media posts called to protest after the Friday prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In recent days, right-wing activists have erected a protest tent at the entrance to the site.
Police also reinforced its presence in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Isawiya and Sheikh Jarrah, where police expect protests by Jews and Arabs.
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The police also brace for protests in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm following the death of its 17-year-old resident Mohammed Kiwan, last week. He was laid to rest Thursday amid claims by his family that he was shot by the police. The police misconduct unit is currently investigating the accusation.
The police said they do not expect other clashes.
A Palestinian source in the city, identified with the Fatah movement, said that the fighting in Gaza had without doubt amplified sympathy for Hamas among East Jerusalem residents.
The Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday an appeal by seven families from Silwan against their eviction. Much like in Sheikh Jarrah, these are families have lived in their houses for decades and face eviction because this land was transferred to the Jewish organization of Ateret Hacohanim by virtue of the fact that it had been owned by Jews since the 19th century.
The results of the hearing may further increase tensions between Jews and Palestinians