JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) – Israeli police arrested several Palestinians on Monday for throwing stones and other objects at officials outside the disputed Old City of Jerusalem as tensions escalated during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Police said authorities arrested eight people on suspicion of throwing stones, bottles and fireworks at officers during Ramadan celebrations outside the Damascus Gate. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Police said in a statement that “most of the people present at the scene were not actively participating in these disturbances.” Video footage from the scene showed officers pelting water bottles and other objects with stones and suspects being detained.
It was the third consecutive night of unrest outside the Old City, a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
On Sunday, Palestinian youth and Israeli police scuffled outside the Damascus Gate, a central gathering place in the heart of historic Jerusalem. Police said the authorities arrested 10 people on suspicion of attacking the officers, while hundreds of people gathered in the area after a day-long fast. Paramedics said several people suffered minor injuries.
Israeli police are on high alert in recent weeks following three deadly attacks by Palestinians in Israel, in which 11 Israelis were killed. An Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank last week in search of suspected accomplices of a gunman set off a gunfight that killed two Palestinians and wounded 15. On Saturday, Israeli police said its officers killed three Palestinian militants who were involved in recent attacks on Israeli forces and were planning another.
Israeli officials have sought to avoid a repeat of last year’s violence during the month-long holiday for Muslims. Israel, Jordan and Palestinian leaders have held a flurry of meetings in recent weeks, and Israel has announced a series of goodwill gestures in an effort to keep peace during Ramadan.
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police around the historic Old City during Ramadan last year helped intensify an 11-day war between Israel and the Islamic terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip in May.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, along with its sacred sites for three monotheistic beliefs, in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it in a move unrecognized by most of the international community. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel considers the city its joint capital.