Palestinians gathered in celebration outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on Sunday night after barriers put up by Israeli police were removed, allowing them access to a square that became the focus of nightly Ramadan clashes.
Thousands filled the East Jerusalem plaza late on Sunday, many waving Palestinian flags, after police permitted them access to the tiered entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City that is a popular night-time meeting place during the Muslim holy month.
Conflict broke out, however, as Israeli police waded into the crowd to confiscate the flags.
Amid the celebratory scenes that went on into Monday morning, Ahmad Tibi, a lawmaker from Israel’s Arab minority, criticized what he called the “mistaken” decision to put the metal barricades up in the first place.
The clashes followed the start of Ramadan on April 13 and laid bare simmering tensions in the holy city.
There were confrontations between stone-throwing youths and police in riot gear trying to disperse them, using horses and vehicles spraying foul-smelling skunk water.
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