Israeli police and Palestinians clashed in neighborhoods throughout east Jerusalem overnight Wednesday, some of the fiercest unrest the contested city has seen in months.
Tensions in east Jerusalem have been surging this week as police have conducted intensive searches in one neighborhood for the perpetrator behind a deadly shooting earlier this week that killed a soldier.
The overnight clashes, which appeared to have subsided by Thursday morning, come as tens of thousands of Jews were flocking to Jerusalem to celebrate the weeklong Sukkot holiday, surging into Jerusalem’s Old City, often a focal point for tensions.
They were also some of the most widespread clashes Jerusalem has seen in years, with unrest erupting in more than a dozen neighborhoods across the eastern part of the city and areas surrounding it.
Police said they arrested 23 people following the confrontations, half of them minors. Police said masked protesters threw firebombs and stones and set off fireworks toward officers. Video footage released by Israeli police showed a street littered with burning detritus and trash bins set alight.
Police said in some cases officers used live fire against the protesters, but there was no immediate report of injuries, The Associated Press reported.
The police manhunt has stifled life for residents of the Shuafat refugee camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a hardscrabble neighborhood that has long seen neglect at the hands of Israeli authorities.
Police initially closed the neighborhood’s entry and exit points and while they have since reopened, officers are stopping every car moving in and out of the city, triggering snarling traffic jams and disrupting the residents’ daily routine.
In response, shops, businesses and schools across east Jerusalem closed down on Wednesday in protest at the police measures and in solidarity with Shuafat.
The uptick in violence in the flashpoint city comes amid soaring tensions in the West Bank, where the Israeli military has been carrying out nightly raids since the spring in what it says is an attempt to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed, making this year the deadliest since 2015. Israel says most of those killed were militants, but local youth protesting the incursions and other civilians have also been killed.
Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and later annexed that part of the city. It considers the entire city its eternal, undivided capital. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state, with Jerusalem’s eastern flank as capital.