Police, Palestinians Clash on First Night of Ramadan in Jerusalem's Old City

The police is showing restraint compared to the same period last year by keeping distance from the Damascus Gate and not dispersing people from there. 'Ramadan is not a war,' Jerusalem police chief said last week

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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The plaza in front of the Damascus Gate, on Saturday.
The plaza in front of the Damascus Gate, on Saturday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Police arrested four Palestinians during clashes with its forces in Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday, the first night of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, after they allegedly threw stones and other objects at the officers.

The clashes broke out following a mostly quiet evening at the Damascus gate, where food stalls and entertainment shows for children were set up by the Jerusalem municipality.

In the early evening hours, tens of thousands of worshipers began to gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayer, followed by thousands who arrived at the Damascus Gate area.

Unlike last year, the police did not place barriers around the plaza's stairs, and most of the police force remained relatively distant from the gate in an attempt to avoid an escalation.

The police also showed restraint compared to last year by avoiding dispersing people from the gate even when a few young men chanted nationalist songs and threw bottles at police stations.

The situation escalated after a Palestinian man threw fireworks at police officers while others set fire to trash cans.

Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman said last week in a meeting with reporters that the police will make an effort to let the Muslim community to mark Ramadan and prevent extremists from deteriorating the situation.

"In the end, Ramadan is not a war, it is a holy month of fasting and asceticism, and most of the public wants to celebrate the holiday and our goal is to enable that," Turgeman said.

Also on Saturday, police arrested a suspect in the Old City area who uploaded a video on Tik Tok in which he allegedly threatened to harm security forces.

With the beginning of Ramadan and the recent wave of fatal terror attacks in Israel, as well as the fire exchanges in the West Bank, security forces declared a state of high alert this week.

The Israeli army assigned about a thousand soldiers who are on training tracks on special units to the police in order to bolster its security forces within Israel proper.

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