Israel faced international criticism after clashes between police and worshippers at al-Aqsa mosque following protests over the potential eviction of Palestinians from a neighbourhood in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. The clashes continued on Saturday night, the holiest night of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates condemned Israel earlier on Saturday. And envoys from the so-called Middle East Quartet said they’re closely monitoring the situation and had “serious concern” about the possible evictions inflaming an already tense environment.
“We call upon Israeli authorities to exercise restraint and to avoid measures that would further escalate the situation,” the envoys said in a joint statement. The Quartet is made up of nations and international entities involved in mediating the Israel-Palestinian peace process, including the European Union, Russia, the US and the United Nations.
Separately, the US, a strong ally of Israel, said late on Friday it was “extremely concerned about the ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem”, noting that they’ve resulted “scores of injured people”.
“We call on Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to de-escalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Dozens were injured in the clashes on Friday night after tens of thousands gathered at the third-holiest mosque in Islam to mark the end of Ramadan under a heavy police presence, the Associated Press reported. Clashes broke out with worshippers throwing chairs and rocks and police in riot gear firing rubber bullets and using grenades, the AP said.