JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli police clashed with Palestinians in Jerusalem on Tuesday, raising concerns that the violence could escalate into a repeat of the 11-day war in May.
Police said Palestinians rioted outside of Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate and hurled rocks at officers and buses. Police used tear gas, sound grenades, and skunk water to disperse the crowd. They said 22 people were arrested in the clashes.
The Palestinians said police tried to restrict a large holiday celebration in honor of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, which they viewed as a provocation. They accused police of using heavy-handed tactics and disproportionate force to control the crowd.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent EMT service, 17 people were injured and 10 were hospitalized.
Tensions have risen between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at Damascus Gate in recent days, leading to “dozens of arrests,” police said.
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, nightly clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police spread to riots on the Temple Mount, which helped ignite the war in May. The Temple Mount compound is the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism. Hamas responded to the riots at the Temple Mount by firing a barrage of rockets toward Jerusalem, setting off the 11-day war.
A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday that the terror group would not rule out another war with Israel.
"They can come and destroy everything but at the same time Israel will never see its stability unless the Palestinians get their stability," Dr. Ghazi Hamad told Sky News.
When asked whether Hamas would continue to strike Israel, Hamad claimed it was their "right" to do so.
During the war in May, Hamas launched more than 4,300 rockets and mortar rounds at Israel, including barrages directed at major population centers around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel said it struck over 1,000 targets in the Gaza Strip during the fighting.
The fighting killed more than 250 Israelis and Palestinians. Israel says most of the Palestinian dead were Hamas terrorists.
Since then, a fragile cease-fire is in place and Egyptian mediators are working to reach a long-term agreement.