The US on Friday voiced extreme concern and called for an end to violence following a raid by Israeli police on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestine.
“The United States is extremely concerned about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem, including on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah, which have reportedly resulted in scores of injured people,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan.
“This includes Friday’s attack on Israeli soldiers and reciprocal ‘price tag’ attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, which we condemn in no uncertain terms,” said Price.
Washington calls on “Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence,” he said.
“It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount – in word and in practice,” he added.
Israeli police attempted to disperse worshippers inside the Haram al-Sharif area of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday evening, using stun grenades and gas bombs.
The number of injured rose to more than 205 in Israeli attacks at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Damascus Gate of the Old City and Sheikh Jarrah district in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian Red Crescent said in a statement.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
Sheikh Jarrah evictions
Price also voiced concern about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
“As we have consistently said, it is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism,” said Price.
The spokesman said Washington urges both sides to “work cooperatively together to lower tensions, end the violence, and reinvigorate long-standing coordination mechanisms and relationships that have served their shared interests over the decades.”
The Israeli Central Court in East Jerusalem approved a decision to evict seven Palestinian families from their homes in favor of right-win Israeli settlers at the beginning of 2021.
Israel’s Supreme Court delayed its ruling on their evictions on Thursday amid heated demonstrations and clashes between Palestinians and settlers. Another hearing has been scheduled for May 10.
Since 1956, a total of 37 Palestinian families have been living in 27 homes in the neighborhood. However, Jewish settlers have been trying to force them out on the basis of a law approved by the Israeli parliament in 1970.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their villages and towns in historical Palestine to neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in 1948.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.