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Police on high alert after Palestinian riots in Jerusalem, Gaza rocket fire

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Israel’s security forces were on edge Sunday, after Jerusalem was rocked by violent Palestinian riots over the weekend amid tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, and following the firing of a rocket from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel late Saturday and clashes along the security fence with the coastal enclave.

Police and the military were bracing for renewed violence following the holiest night of Ramadan on Saturday night and with Sunday-Monday seeing Jewish celebrations of Jerusalem Day. Security officials fear the capital could potentially see an escalation in violence that would lead to a larger conflict.

Ahead of Laylat al-Qadr, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai held a security assessment on the recent tensions in Jerusalem and ordered commanders, in particular in the Jerusalem area, to “significantly” boost their forces ahead of “another series of expected events over the coming days.”

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That was apparently referring to Jerusalem Day, a national holiday that begins Sunday night, in which Israel celebrates the unification of Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city. The main event on Monday, the so-called Flag March, usually draws tens of thousands to Jerusalem’s Old City. Mass prayer services and gatherings were also expected to be held Sunday night. Palestinians wave flags of the Hamas terror group after afternoon prayers for the last Friday of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 7, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

On Saturday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz held an assessment of the security situation with senior officials from the military, police and Shin Bet security service. At the end of the meeting, the IDF said there would be a reinforcement of troop numbers as part of preparations for a potential escalation.

“Extremists on both sides cannot be allowed to cause an escalation of the situation,” Gantz said in a statement. “Israel will continue to act to preserve freedom of worship at the Temple Mount and at the same time not allow terror to raise its head or harm public order.” Israeli security forces deploy next to the Dome of the Rock mosque amid clashes with Palestinian protesters at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2021 (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

On Friday, 200 Palestinians and 17 Israeli police officers were wounded as hundreds rioted in the Temple Mount and cops broke into the compound to quell the unrest. On Saturday night, as some 90,000 Muslim worshipers prayed at the Temple Mount, the clashes with police continued........

© The Times of Israel

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