World reacts as Jerusalem tensions escalate

More than 200 wounded in Al-Aqsa amid growing anger over Israeli plans to evict Palestinian families from occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah.

Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian during confrontations [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]
Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian during confrontations [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

More than 200 Palestinians were wounded outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem as Israeli police fired rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas and stun grenades towards rock-hurling protesters.

Tens of thousands of worshippers had earlier packed Islam’s third-holiest site on the final Friday of Ramadan and many stayed on to protest against Israeli plans to evict Palestinian families from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.

Palestinians have staged a series of sit-ins in the area in recent days denouncing Israeli orders for them to vacate their homes. Israeli security forces have attacked the sit-ins using skunk water, tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and shock grenades. Dozens of Palestinians have been arrested.

Here is how countries and the international community have so far reacted to the events at Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah:

United Nations

The UN’s rights office urged Israel to call off any forced evictions and warned its actions could amount to “war crimes”.

“We wish to emphasise that East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which international humanitarian law applies,” spokesman Rupert Colville said. “The occupying power … cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory.”

Transferring civilian populations into occupied territory is illegal under international law and “may amount to war crimes”, he added.

Qatar

Qatar condemned the Israeli police’s “storming” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the “attack on worshippers”.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said it was a “provocation to the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world, and a severe violation of human rights and international accords”.

Qatar urged the international community to work to end “repeated Israeli aggression” against the Palestinians and Al-Aqsa.

It reiterated its support for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent state based on the 1967 borders.

Turkey

Turkey criticised Israel and accused it of unleashing “terror” on Palestinians after Israeli police fired rubber-coated rounds and stun grenades.

Several Turkish officials criticised Israel and called for other countries to voice condemnation, while a foreign ministry statement urged Israel to “immediately end its provocative and hostile stance and act with reason”.

“Shame on Israel and those who keep silent in the face of disgraceful attacks,” Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said. “We call on everyone to stand up against the policies of occupation and aggression of this apartheid state.”

Turkey’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, told state television Israel was violating human rights and would “pay the price” as opposition parties echoed the government condemnation in a rare sign of unity.

“Attacking innocent people praying is clearly terror,” Altun said. “We see that these attacks on Palestinians are against the most fundamental human rights.”

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia denounced the planned evictions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

“Saudi Arabia rejects Israel’s plans and measures to evict dozens of Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem and impose Israeli sovereignty over them,” the kingdom’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement carried on Saudi-owned Al Arabiya.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates denounced Israeli actions.

The UAE, which normalised relations with Israel last year, “strongly condemned” the clashes and the potential evictions, in a statement by the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalifa al-Marar, and urged Israeli authorities to reduce tensions.

“The UAE the need for Israeli authorities to assume their responsibilities – in line with international law – to provide necessary protection to Palestinian civilians’ right to practice their religion, and to prevent practices that violate the sanctity of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the statement, carried by state news agency WAM, read.

Iran

The foreign ministry of Iran called on the UN to condemn the bloody Israeli police action in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, saying it amounted to a “war crime”.

Iran “condemns the attack on Al-Aqsa mosque … by the Quds [Jerusalem] occupier regime’s military”, foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.

“This war crime once again proved to the world the criminal nature of the illegitimate Zionist regime,” he said, adding that Iran called on “the United Nations and other related international institutions to act on their definite duty to confront this war crime”.

Russia

Russia condemned attacks on Palestinian civilians and urged both sides to refrain from escalating violence.

“This development of events is perceived with deep concern in Moscow. We strongly condemn attacks against civilians,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “We call on all parties to refrain from any steps fraught with the escalation of violence.”

Egypt

Egypt also denounced Israel’s attempt to forcibly evict Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said: “The displacement of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood is a violation of resolutions of international legitimacy and the international humanitarian law.”

Pakistan

Pakistan “strongly” condemned the “attacks on innocent worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli occupation forces”.

Such attacks, particularly during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, are against all humanitarian norms and human rights laws, said a statement by the foreign ministry.

“We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured, reiterate our steadfast support to the Palestinian cause, and once again urge the international community to take prompt action to protect the Palestinian people,” it said.

Kuwait

Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry also denounced the Israeli police’s actions at Al-Aqsa and held Israeli authorities responsible for any escalation and consequences that may follow the events that took place on Friday night.

Palestinians react as Israeli police fire stun grenades at the compound that houses al-Aqsa Mosque [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

Al-Azhar

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the highest seat of Sunni Muslim learning, denounced the assault on worshippers and deemed it a “brutal Zionist terrorism in the light of shameful international silence”.

Islamic Union for Muslim Scholars

For its part, the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) “strongly” condemned the Israeli police’s actions.

In a statement, it hailed the Palestinians in Jerusalem for being “persistent in the face of repeated Israeli aggression against the al-Aqsa mosque and the people of Sheikh Jarrah”.

IUMS Secretary-General Ali Qaradaghi encouraged the Muslim world to support the Palestinian cause materially and morally, considering such support a religious duty and necessity.

Jordan

Neighboruing Jordan, custodian of Islamic sites in Jerusalem, said “Israel’s continuation of its illegal practices and provocative steps” in the city is a “dangerous game”.

“Building and expanding settlements, confiscating lands, demolishing homes and deporting Palestinians from their homes are illegal practices that perpetuate the occupation and undermine the chances of achieving a just and comprehensive peace, which is a regional and international necessity,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi tweeted.

European Union

The European Union condemned violence at the compound and urged authorities to quickly calm tensions.

“Violence and incitement are unacceptable and the perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable,” a spokesman said in a statement. “The European Union calls on the authorities to act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions in Jerusalem.”

The statement added that “acts of incitement around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif must be avoided and the status quo has to be respected”, using another term for the key religious site.

United States

The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about the events and called on all sides to work to de-escalate them. It also expressed concern about the evictions.

“It’s critical to avoid unilateral steps that would exacerbate tensions or take us further away from peace. And that would include evictions, settlement activity, and home demolitions,” US State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters in Washington.

An injured Palestinian is evacuated from al-Aqsa mosque [Ammar Awad/Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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