Israeli police have clashed with Palestinian protesters in the latest violence at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, as the UN voiced deep concern at spiralling unrest.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said 57 people were wounded on Friday, including 14 Palestinians taken to hospital, one of them in a serious condition, after police stormed the facility in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem’s Old City.
The clashes come after a month of deadly violence, as the Jewish festival of Passover overlaps with the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The violence has sparked international fears of conflict, a year since similar unrest led to an 11-day war between Israel and militants in Gaza.
This week, Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have fired rockets at Israel, which has responded by sending warplanes to strike the blockaded and impoverished territory.
“We are deeply concerned by the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel over the past month,” said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights.
Israeli police said Palestinians began hurling stones before dawn on Friday towards the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray. “Police forces used crowd dispersal means in order to stop the violence,” the force said, adding that one officer had been wounded.
Al-Aqsa is Islam’s third-holiest site, and the most sacred site in Judaism where it is known as the Temple Mount.