Jerusalem, again the scene of renewed tension.
Clashes erupted Friday between Palestinians and Israeli police in occupied East Jerusalem (the Palestinian part of the city occupied by the Jewish state).
This violence, which left more than 200 wounded, occurred as tens of thousands of faithful gathered in the grounds of the Esplanade des Mosques, for the last big prayer on Friday before the end of the month of Ramadan.
Worried, the international community called for an immediate "de-escalation" of tensions.
The Parisian takes stock.
What happened ?
These are the most violent clashes that have occurred in recent years in the holy city. Tens of thousands of faithful gathered on Friday in the grounds of the Esplanade des Mosques for the last big prayer on Friday before the end of the month of Ramadan. A day which was marked by violent clashes between, on one side, the Palestinians who threw projectiles and on the other, the Israeli police who used stun grenades and fired rubber bullets at the crowd. .
Images filmed by France 24 show some Palestinians running under a shower of tear gas canisters, while some, more determined, stand against the police with throwing stones and bottles.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 205 Palestinians were injured in the evening.
For its part, the Israeli police reported 17 wounded in these ranks.
Jerusalem: more than 200 injured in violent clashes on the Esplanade des Mosques
This violence takes place in a particularly tense context in the region. At the end of April, hundreds of people had already been injured during several nights of clashes between Palestinians and Israelis on the outskirts of the Old City of Jerusalem. "We are clearly in a phase of rising tensions", underlines Vincent Lemire, historian and author of "Jerusalem: History of a world city".
If this escalation is part of a context of long-term tensions, several recent events have accentuated the divisions in the region, according to the academic. At the top, the postponement of the Palestinian elections decided on April 30 by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, after having affirmed that the holding of the poll could not be "guaranteed" in the old city. "In fact, Israel refused to allow polling stations to accommodate Palestinians in Jerusalem," notes the lecturer in contemporary history.
Another point of tension: the crisis of leadership in Israel.
The Jewish state has been going through a major political stalemate since the parliamentary elections in March, with a triple-indicted prime minister who failed to form a government within the deadline.
After the failure of Benjamin Netanyahu, his rival Yair Lapid was appointed to form the next coalition.
A climate of political uncertainty which thus adds to the already existing tensions.
What is at stake in East Jerusalem?
If the city experienced long periods without violence during the Oslo accords, it "is now returning to the center of tensions", adds Vincent Lemire. And for good reason, today it constitutes a major demographic bastion for the Palestinian people. “In 1967, 25% of the population in Jerusalem was Palestinian against 75% Israeli. The gap is gradually being reduced: today, we have 40% of Palestinians, against 60% of Israelis, ”reports the academic.
Multiplied by four since 1967, the Palestinian population constitutes a “demographic resistance more difficult to circumvent than an insurrection for the Israeli authorities”, judges the specialist.
“The question is recurrent in security debates.
The IDF can handle attacks well as it always has.
But what can she do in the face of an ever-expanding Palestinian population in the city?
“Asks the specialist.
A verdict expected soon
Faced with this threatening demography, Israeli settlers want to speed up the eviction of Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Because according to Israeli law, Jewish citizens able to prove that their ancestors lived in East Jerusalem before the 1948 Arab-Israeli war can request the restitution of their property rights.
The fate of these families threatened with eviction should be known next Monday, the day on which the Israeli Supreme Court is supposed to deliver its verdict.
The end of a legal battle lasting more than ten years.
"This is both a court decision but also clearly political since the law is obviously not the same on the Israeli and Palestinian side," adds the historian.
The holy city will be doubly the center of attention on Monday, as it will also celebrate "Jerusalem Day", celebration of the conquest of the city during the Six Day War.
A commemoration that turns out to be “extremely tense” each year, according to the academic.
“It is obvious that this year will unfortunately be no exception…”, he concludes.
Faced with the violence, the reactions of the international community have multiplied in recent hours, calling with a common voice for the “de-escalation” of tensions. The European Union urged in a statement the Israeli authorities to act "urgently" in this direction, recalling that "political, religious and community leaders of all stripes must show restraint and responsibility and do everything to calm this explosive situation ”.
Likewise, the United States, allies of Israel, called on "Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to defuse tensions and end the violence." "It is absolutely essential that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from any provocative action or rhetoric," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Another reaction: that of Russia, which on Saturday expressed its "concern" and called for avoiding an "escalation of violence" in Jerusalem. For its part, Jordan, a country which is officially the guardian of Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem, denounced a “savage aggression” by the Israeli security forces. A reaction which joins that particularly firm of Iran which urges the United Nations to condemn what it considers as a “war crime” of Israel in Jerusalem.