Palestinians react as Israeli police fire a stun grenade during clashes at Damascus Gate on Laylat al-Qadr during the holy…
Palestinians react as Israeli police fire a stun grenade during clashes at Damascus Gate on Laylat al-Qadr during the holy month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, May 9, 2021.

JERUSALEM - Clashes erupted Saturday between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police outside the Old City of Jerusalem as tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers prayed at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque on Islam's holy night of Laylat al-Qadr.

Palestinian youths threw stones, lit fires and tore down police barricades in the streets leading to the walled Old City gates as officers on horseback and in riot gear used stun grenades and water cannons to repel them.

At least 53 people were injured, the Palestine Red Crescent said. Israeli police said at least one officer was hurt.

Israeli police detain a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest against the planned evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, May 8, 2021.

Tensions have mounted in the city throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, amid growing anger over the potential eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers.

In the Palestinian Gaza Strip, hundreds of protesters gathered along the border with Israel. The Israeli military said the crowds threw burning tires and firecrackers toward the troops.

Israel said it was beefing up security forces Saturday in anticipation of further confrontations in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and Gaza after fierce clashes erupted the previous night at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

A Palestinian official said Egypt was mediating between the sides to try to prevent further escalation, and Saturday's violence appeared less pronounced than Friday's events.

FILE - Israeli police use a water cannon to disperse Palestinian protesters from the area near the Damascus Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem after clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, May 7, 2021.

On Friday, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades toward rock-hurling Palestinian youths at the mosque on the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount plaza holy to both Muslims and Jews.

At least 205 Palestinians and 18 Israeli officers were injured in Friday's confrontations, which drew international condemnations and calls for calm.

Clashes have erupted nightly in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood where numerous Palestinian families face eviction in a long-running legal case. Police said dozens of protesters threw stones at officers there Saturday.

Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai said extra officers were being deployed in Jerusalem on Saturday to "enable freedom of worship and maintain order and security."

"At the same time, we will not allow violent riots, lawbreaking or the harming of police officers. We ask everyone to calm the spirits and violence, particularly on such an important day for the Muslim religion," Shabtai said in a statement.

The Israeli military said it was boosting troops in the West Bank and near the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have sent incendiary balloons over the border, igniting brushfires in Israeli territory. A military spokesman said extra forces there would largely be firefighting ones.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that law and order would be maintained in Jerusalem, as would the right to worship.

Television footage showed buses of Muslim worshippers heading from Israeli Arab cities to Al-Aqsa being stopped by police on the main highway to Jerusalem.

Word of the roadblock spread on social media, drawing hundreds of young men from nearby Arab villages and from Jerusalem.

FILE - Worshippers protest against the likely evictions of Palestinians from their homes, after the last Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, May 7, 2021.

Dozens drove their cars the wrong way down the now-empty Jerusalem-bound lanes, picking up fellow Muslims who had abandoned their own vehicles to start the uphill trek on foot. Some chanted in Arabic: "With our souls and our blood, we will redeem you, Al-Aqsa!"

Police said it was stopping only those planning to take part in riots before the buses were allowed to proceed. Scuffles broke out and footage showed officers firing stun grenades.

Tension was expected to remain high over the next few days. Israel's Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions on Monday, the same day that Israel marks Jerusalem Day, its annual celebration of its capture of east Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Israel claims the entire city as its eternal, indivisible capital. Its annexation of the eastern section was not recognized internationally.

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