Israeli police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse crowds of stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM — Israeli police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Monday as they tried to disperse crowds of rock-throwing Palestinian protesters after the funeral of a young Palestinian man who died from injuries sustained in clashes with the police last month. Dozens of people were reportedly injured.
Hundreds of mourners joined the funeral procession for Waleed Shareef, who was pronounced dead on Saturday. Shareef suffered serious head injuries on April 22 when Israeli police fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing Palestinian protesters at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.
Mourners took Shareef’s body for prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque before heading to a cemetery outside the Old City. “With our souls and our blood, we will redeem you, martyr,” chanted the crowd. Some people were holding Palestinian flags.
Israeli police said protesters threw rocks, sticks and fireworks at security forces. They released videos showing protesters throwing objects towards police near the cemetery and another video of rocks pelting a nearby street.
Police vowed to use a “steady hand” to stop the violence which “turned a funeral into a manifestation of uncontrollable violence”.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Relief Service said 71 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets, stun grenades and beatings. Thirteen people had to be hospitalized, including two with eye injuries, he said.
According to the police, six officers were injured. According to them, 20 Palestinians were arrested, including five people suspected of having tried to flee.
Monday’s violence came just days after police pushed and beat mourners at the funeral in Jerusalem of Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known Al Jazeera journalist who was killed on Wednesday while covering a Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank.
Shareef, 21, was injured in violence on April 22 at a disputed compound that houses the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, and revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, home to the biblical temples and Judaism’s holiest site. Competing claims to the site are at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The compound has been the scene of repeated clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in recent weeks.
Palestinian witnesses and Shareef’s family say he was shot in the head with a rubber bullet, while Israeli authorities have suggested he died from injuries sustained when he fell to the ground. Israeli hospital officials did not give a specific cause of death and the family declined to perform an autopsy.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, home to the Old City and its sensitive religious sites, in the 1967 Middle East War. Israel claims the entire city as its capital and annexed East Jerusalem in a move that is not not internationally recognised. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state that includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip – also captured by Israel in 1967.
The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused the Jerusalem police of a “cruel and barbaric act”. He said there will be no peace and stability in the region until a Palestinian state is established, with East Jerusalem as its capital.