Riots break out in Jerusalem, West Bank over Palestinian prisoners

(JTA) — Palestinian protesters reportedly fired flares and hurled stones at Israeli troops in the Old City in Jerusalem amid violent protests in the West Bank.

Several dozen Palestinians began hurling rocks at troops stationed outside the Mugrabi Gate after Friday prayers, Ynet reported on Feb. 22.

When the troops pursued the men into the Temple Mount compound, other men fired flares at them. None of the Israeli soldiers was injured.

The Temple Mount, the site of Judaism’s ancient temple which overlooks the Western Wall, is home to two mosques considered among the most holy in Islam. Clashes there have sparked extended conflict in the past.

In parallel, riots broke out in Hebron as dozens began to march int he direction of Beit Hadassah, an area inhabited by Israeli settlers. Protesters also hurled stones outside Ofer Prison near Jerusalem, where dozens of Palestinians prisoners are held, some under administrative detention.

The protests, according to Ynet, were over the detention of Samer Tareq al-Essawi, Ja’far Ibrahim ‘Izz-al-Din and Tareq Husein Qa’dan and Ayman Isma’il Sharawna.

Ynet quoted unnamed officials in Israel’s General Security Service, or Shin Bet, as saying that Sharawna and Essawi were released along with 1,025 in 2011 in exchange for Gilad Shalit, a soldier abducted by Hamas, but “returned to practice terrorism.”

Israel radio said the protests also marked the 1994 anniversary of the massacre of 29 Muslims at Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site holy to Jews and Muslims, by Baruch Goldstein, a settler from Kiryat Arba.

Protests were also held on Thursday in which several Palestinians and two Israeli journalists sustained light injuries, Ynet reported.

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