Clashes at Islam's third holiest site and around occupied East Jerusalem, which wounded 205 Palestinians, came amid mounting anger over potential eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

Stun grenades burst in the air as Israeli forces target worshippers in Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2021.
Stun grenades burst in the air as Israeli forces target worshippers in Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2021. (AFP)

Israel is bracing for more protests after clashes at occupied Jerusalem's flashpoint Al Aqsa Mosque compound wounded more than 200 people, with major regional and global powers urging for calm or denouncing Israeli attacks on worshippers. 

A call for demonstrations on Saturday in solidarity with Jerusalem Palestinians came from an advocacy group for Arab Israelis, who make up 20 percent of the country's population, the High Follow up Committee for the Arabs in Israel.

In the unrest following Muslim prayers on Friday, Israeli riot police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians who responded with rocks, bottles and fireworks at Islam's third-holiest site which is also revered by Jews.

Palestinian Red Crescent reported that 205 Palestinians were wounded in the attacks at Al Aqsa and across occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli police said 17 officers were wounded. 

Video footage showed Israeli forces storming the mosque's sprawling plaza and firing sound grenades inside the building, where throngs of worshippers including women and children were praying on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

READ MORE: Israeli police wound dozens of Palestinians in Al Aqsa Mosque raid

The attacks came after tensions soared in recent weeks, over Israeli restrictions on access to parts of the Old City during Ramadan and the threat of eviction hanging over four Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for illegal Jewish settlers.

READ MORE: Israeli intellectuals warn ICC not to trust Tel Aviv in war crimes probe

US 'extremely concerned'

The United States – a staunch Israeli ally whose tone has however toughened under US President Joe Biden – said it was "extremely concerned" by the events and urged both sides 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," the State Department said.

READ MORE: How biased was the US media in its coverage of the Jerusalem clashes?

EU calls 'to act urgently to de-escalate'

The European Union called on the authorities "to act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions in Jerusalem," saying "violence and incitement are unacceptable and the perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable".

EU spokesman said in a statement 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.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he held the Israeli government "responsible" for the unrest and voiced "full support for our heroes in Al Aqsa".

READ MORE: European powers urge Israel to abandon settlement expansion plans

'Barbaric attack' 

Jordan condemned Israel's "barbaric attack" in Jerusalem, calling on the international community to stop the "escalation and violations" at Al Aqsa Mosque.

Egypt, Turkey, Qatar and Bahrain also blasted Israeli forces for the confrontation.

The unrest came as Iran and it allies around the world on Friday marked Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day, an annual show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Iran called on the United Nations to condemn the Israeli police actions, arguing that "this war crime once again proved to the world the criminal nature of the illegitimate Zionist regime".

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the Israeli attacks reflect "the criminal nature" of the Israeli government in dealing with the Palestinians, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Khatibzadeh called on the United Nations and the international community to intervene to protect the Palestinians against the Israeli assaults.

"Iran calls on the United Nations and all related international bodies to do their duty that is taking measures against this war crime," he said.

The Al Aqsa Mosque compound has an explosive history. 

In 2000, the second Palestinian intifada broke out after then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon made a high-profile visit that Palestinians viewed as an intolerable provocation.

Turkey accuses Israel of 'terror' over Palestinian clashes 

Turkey criticised Israel and accused it of unleashing "terror" on Palestinians.

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 on Twitter late on Friday.

"We call on everyone to stand up against the policies of occupation and aggression of this apartheid state," he said.

Pakistan urges world to protect Palestinians

Pakistan on Saturday "strongly" condemned the "attacks on innocent worshippers".

Such attacks, particularly during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, are against all humanitarian norms and human rights laws, read 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.

READ MORE: Israel does not spare Gaza from strikes, even in Ramadan

Intensifying violence in occupied areas

The Al Aqsa confrontation followed a week of intensifying violence in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli police said officers killed two Palestinians and wounded a third after the three men opened fire on the Salem base in the occupied West Bank.

On Thursday, Israelis buried Yehuda Guetta, 19, who had been shot on Sunday at a bus stop in the northern occupied West Bank.

Israeli security forces said they had arrested Montasser Shalabi, 44, near Ramallah, on suspicion of carrying out the attack.

On Wednesday, Israeli troops killed 16-year-old Palestinian Said Youssef Muhammad Oudeh near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, saying soldiers had opened fire on protesters throwing petrol bombs.

READ MORE: Palestinian boy killed by Israeli forces in occupied West Bank

READ MORE: UN warns Israel East Jerusalem land grab can amount to war crimes

SaudiArabia, UAE condemn Al Aqsa raid

"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.

The UAE, which normalised relations with Israel last year, "strongly condemned" the attack 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 citizens," the statement, carried by state news agency WAM, read.

Russia urges no 'escalation of violence'

Russia on Saturday condemned attacks on 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, adding: "We call on all parties to refrain from any steps fraught with the escalation of violence."

Tensions in Sheikh Jarrah 

Clashes have also repeatedly broken out in occupied East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, fuelled by a years-long land dispute between Palestinian residents and illegal Jewish settlers seeking to evict them.

An Israeli court this year ruled that four Palestinian homes there legally belong t o Jewish families, who claimed to have lost the land during the war that accompanied Israel's creation in 1948.

The Sheikh Jarrah families have provided evidence that their homes were acquired from Jordanian authorities, who controlled occupied East Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967.

In Jordan – home to a large Palestinian population – hundreds rallied on Friday, chanting "we will die for Sheikh Jarrah".

Israel's Supreme Court is to hold a new hearing in the case on Monday, when Israelis mark its own Jerusalem Day to celebrate the "liberation" of the city, including with a parade of Israeli flags through the Old City.

READ MORE: Israeli settlers target Palestinian village in 'price tag' attack

Source: TRTWorld and agencies