Violence between Palestinians and Israeli police sparks global concern: NPR

Days of clashes in Jerusalem have left hundreds injured and raised international concern over an Israeli attempt to carry out imminent evictions.



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This morning we reported on clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, clashes that left hundreds of Palestinians injured. The conflict continued this morning in the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the center of Jerusalem, the Old City, indeed. And the latest sign that things are getting worse, there, sirens are going off – rocket warning sirens that can be heard all over town.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin joins us now from Jerusalem. Daniel, first of all, I just referred to these mermaids. What does it mean?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Well, we’re getting reports from the Israeli military that seven rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Jerusalem and a nearby town of Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, one of those rockets intercepted by the ‘army. I was on the streets here in Jerusalem where young Israeli religious Jewish nationalists were gathered with flags. They marched through the streets on Jerusalem Day, a day that celebrates Israel’s capture of Palestinian neighborhoods in the city. And we heard those air raid sirens. Some ran for cover. I ran behind a wall and a trash can. We have heard booms, and the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza has claimed responsibility. This is the culmination of a very tumultuous day.

MARTIN: So can I hear you? And where you are now, are things stable?

ESTRIN: Well, for now, the police have asked all religious nationalists – Jewish participants to disperse. So – so far, for now, things seem calm. But we are still waiting to see what happens. So far, there are no reports of injuries or damage.

MARTIN: So asking them to disperse because there was this annual march of Israeli ultranationalists. It was supposed to happen today, wasn’t it?

ESTRIN: That’s true. It was – it happened at a very sensitive time because it’s the end of Ramadan. This morning, around 300 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the old walled city. And this march was to take place this year, like every year, walking in the old city, in the Muslim quarter. But the Israeli government has decided, in order to reduce tensions, to divert this march. And in response – in protest, the organizers called off the march, saying Israel was giving in to terror.

MARTIN: Well – it’s always complicated, Daniel, but what’s the impetus for these clashes right now? What is the problem ?

ESTRIN: We have seen these tensions build over the past month. There was a year of pandemic shutdowns, and then the city opened up. And Palestinian crowds were gathering outside the Old City in a square as they do every year for Ramadan. And the police were trying – so they say – trying to control the crowds. And the Palestinians saw this as an affront to their religion, as an affront to their very existence in the city. And so we saw skirmishes at night, young boys, young teenagers throwing stones, throwing water bottles at the police who spray this foul water, who fire stun grenades. And he left this festive Ramadan square smelly every day and chaotic. And then it just escalated from there – Israeli-Palestinian street fights, ultranationalists in the streets.

MARTIN: We will continue to follow him. Daniel Estrin of NPR reports from Jerusalem on these clashes between the Israeli police and the Palestinians. Daniel, thank you for your report.

ESTRIN: Thank you, Rachel.

Copyright © 2021 NRP. All rights reserved. Visit the Terms of Use and Permissions pages of our website at www.npr.org for more information.

NPR transcripts are created in peak time by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative recording of NPR’s programming is the audio recording.

Teresa H. Sadler