Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday called for “calm on all sides” after several nights of clashes in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem between police and Palestinians.
“First of all we want to ensure that law and order are respected... now we demand compliance with the law and I call for calm on all sides,” Netanyahu said in a statement after an emergency security meeting to discuss the violence, which has been the worst in years and has injured dozens.
Tensions have been running high in east Jerusalem over a ban on gatherings, and a series of videos posted online showing young Arabs attacking ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Jewish extremists taking to the streets to bully Arabs.
On Thursday, at least 125 people were injured when Palestinian protesters, angered by chants of “death to Arabs” from far-right Jewish demonstrators, clashed repeatedly with police.
Skirmishes broke out again on Friday when tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers left Jerusalem’s revered Al-Aqsa mosque after night prayers and found themselves confronted by dozens of armed police, some on horseback.
At the security meeting, Netanyahu met high-ranking officials including army chief Aviv Kohavi, and also discussed repeated salvos of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel that started before midnight Friday to Saturday.
Israeli tanks shelled Gaza in response and launched airstrikes on the blockaded coastal enclave controlled by the militant group Hamas after more rockets were fired.
The Israeli army said 36 rockets fired at Israel were intercepted or hit open ground.
It said the airstrikes struck Hamas military targets as well as underground infrastructure and rocket launchers.
“Concerning the Gaza Strip, I gave instructions that we be prepared for all scenarios,” Netanyahu said.
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