20 Officers Wounded, 40 People Arrested as Palestinians, Jews Protest for Different Reasons in Israel

Security forces in Jerusalem separately clashed with Palestinians angry about Ramadan restriction and Jewish extremists who held an anti-Arab march nearby on Thursday night, the Associated Press reported.

Israeli police said 44 people were arrested and 20 officers were wounded. The police statement did not specify whether those arrested were Palestinian or Jewish and did not refer to any specific instances of violence.

Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police on a nightly basis since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The tension began when police placed barricades outside the Old City's Damascus Gate, where Muslims traditionally gather to enjoy the evening after the daytime fast.

The city is bracing for possible further unrest as police step up security.

The U.S. Embassy said it was "deeply concerned" about the violence.

"We hope all responsible voices will promote an end to incitement, a return to calm, and respect for the safety and dignity of everyone in Jerusalem," it said in a statement.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Palestine Jerusalem Protest
Palestinians shout slogans around a model of Al-Aqsa mosque's Dome of the Rock during a rally in Gaza city on April 23, 2021, condemning overnight clashes in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. Over 100 Palestinians and 20 Israeli police were wounded in overnight clashes in annexed East Jerusalem, authorities said. MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

There were concerns the violence could reignite following Friday prayers at a major holy site in Jerusalem, but thousands of worshippers dispersed peacefully after Muslim religious leaders called for restraint. The Islamic militant group Hamas, meanwhile, staged demonstrations across Gaza, reiterating its support for armed struggle.

Late Thursday, hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones and bottles at police, who fired a water cannon and stun grenades to disperse them. Dozens of Palestinians were wounded.

A far-right Jewish group known as Lahava led a march of hundreds of protesters chanting "Arabs get out!" toward the Damascus Gate. The show of force came in response to videos circulated on TikTok showing Palestinians slapping religious Jews at random. Other videos made in response to them appear to show Jews assaulting Arabs.

Police used metal barricades to halt the far-right protesters a few hundred meters (yards) from Damascus Gate. Later, they used water cannon, stun grenades and mounted police to push them back toward mostly Jewish west Jerusalem.

Videos circulating online showed smaller clashes and fires elsewhere in the city. One video showed what appeared to be a group of Palestinians beating an ultra-Orthodox Jew near Damascus Gate. They could be seen punching, kicking and throwing him to the ground before police chased them off.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized by most of the international community. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Its fate has been one of the most divisive issues in the peace process, which ground to a halt more than a decade ago.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians attended weekly prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday. The site is the third holiest in Islam and the holiest for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, condemned the "police and settlers' attack on Palestinians in Jerusalem" in his Friday sermon. But he called on worshippers to remain calm and not to give the other side an excuse to storm the compound. They dispersed peacefully after prayers and there were no immediate reports of unrest.

The sprawling hilltop compound has seen clashes on a number of occasions over the years and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, staged dozens of protests across the territory expressing solidarity with Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem.

Addressing the protesters, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar condemned the decision of some Arab states to normalize relations with Israel last year and lashed out at the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank for continuing its security coordination with Israel.

"After a long series of protests and demonstrations, we have reached the conclusion that without weapons, we cannot liberate our land, protect our holy sites, bringing back our people to their land or maintain our dignity," he said.