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9 detained as Israeli forces disperse rally near Damascus Gate

May 28, 2014 9:54 P.M. (Updated: May 29, 2014 2:01 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians and injured three on Wednesday after violently dispersing a rally in protest against "Jerusalem Day" in Jerusalem's Old City.

Dozens of Palestinians protested near Damascus Gate and raised Palestinian flags as thousands of Israeli Jews converged on the area to celebrate Israel's capture and ensuing occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades and assaulted protesters with batons, and nine Palestinians were arrested during the protests.

Eight of the detained were identified as Ghaith Ghaith, Raafat al-Ajlouni, Murad Abu Sbeih, Mohammed al-Qam, photojournalist Rami al-Khatib, Muhammad Sharha, Tamer Khalaf, 28, and Muhannad Ghaith, while the identity of the ninth individual was not clear.

Dozens suffered bruises as a result of the violent attacks on demonstrators as well excessive use of tear gas, and three had to be evacuated to the hospital.

Ambulance crews on the scene were prevented from accessing the wounded by Israeli forces, and tear gas was sprayed at one crew as they attempted to evacuate the three wounded.

Additionally, police as well as passing Jewish civilians taking part in Jerusalem Day festivities assaulted press crews as they attempted to film the protest, including the Palestine TV press crew.

Prior to the arrival of Jerusalem Day rallies in the area, Israeli police forced local merchants to shut down their shops along the route of the march, which leads from West Jerusalem and around the Old City.

Participants in the marches attacked Palestinians along the route during the march, while Israeli soldiers stood by without intervening, witnesses said.

An Israeli police spokesman confirmed the nine arrests, tweeting: "Police arrest 9 Arab suspects in disturbances at Damascus gate after stones thrown at officers. Celebrations continue."

The rally at Damascus Gate followed tensions at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City earlier in the day, when four Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli policemen after clashes erupted as the police led Jewish groups through the holy site.

Jerusalem Day often leads to clashes in the area, as thousands of Jews rally in the predominantly-Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to mark their control over the area and their support for what they consider to be the day Jerusalem was "unified."

East Jerusalem Palestinians, however, consider these rallies to be a provocation, as the Israeli victory in 1967 led to a military occupation that continues until this day.

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