East Jerusalem hospital fills up after Al-Aqsa clashes
Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli police at Al-Aqsa mosque compound filled the halls of an east Jerusalem hospital Monday, several having lost eyes after being hit by rubber bullets.
Ezzedine, a 19-year-old carpenter from the West Bank city of Nablus, said doctors at the large Makassed Hospital told him he would not regain sight in his left eye after being injured at the flashpoint site.
He said he came to Al-Aqsa to perform Ramadan prayers on Friday night when police began firing stun grenades and tear gas.
"They want to take a place that's not theirs," he told AFP, referring to Islam's third holiest site, also revered by Jews who call it the Temple Mount.
Israel has insisted it is committed to the rights of Muslims to worship at Al-Aqsa, but has been forced to suppress riots at the compound instigated by Palestinians hurling stones and other projectiles.
More than 700 Palestinians, and more than two dozens of Israeli police agents, have been wounded since Friday in violence at Al-Aqsa and other parts of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
The youngest of six brothers and sisters, Ezzedine declined to give his last name because he slipped into Jerusalem illegally to pray.
Makassed director general Adnan Farhoud said 100 patients arrived Monday morning, and about 200 people after the unrest first began.
He said most of Monday's injuries were to the head, chest, and upper and lower limbs -- claiming Israeli forces intended to cause significant injury.
When "you mean to harm someone you shoot to the head", he told AFP.
Police said nine officers were hurt Monday and another 18 injured overnight on Friday.
- 'They provoke the youths' -
The Palestinian Red Crescent said it opened a field hospital to treat the wounded before evacuating patients to local hospital.
The Augustus Victoria hospital in east Jerusalem opened a special emergency room to treat those injured.
Farhoud said the violence in Jerusalem was the worst he had seen in years, although less severe than in 1990, when nearly 20 Palestinians were killed in clashes with police at Al-Aqsa.
"Before, they were using live bullets," Farhoud said. "Now, they're using rubber bullets."
The results are injuries that are not lethal, but that can cause serious damage.
One patient who was wheeled into surgery had suffered a spleen injury after being with a rubber bullet.
Siraj, 24, sat in a wheelchair in jeans torn away from his legs, which were both wrapped in white gauze.
White paint covered his shirt from his early morning work renovating apartments.
He said he went from work to Al-Aqsa to pray, and was injured when Israeli police entered the mosque and began firing stun grenades.
"They shot everyone, young and old people," he said. "They shot a stun grenade toward me, and hit my legs. I feel the pain and I hope it subsides."
The Israelis "provoke the youths", said Siraj, but Israeli leaders have insisted they have only acted in response to rioters engaged in dangerous provocations.
The Palestinian Red Crescent put the toll from Monday morning's clashes at more than 334 wounded, including more than 200 who were hospitalised, five of them in critical condition.
The unrest resumed in the evening as Palestinians clashed anew with Israeli police at Al-Aqsa mosque compound, an AFP reporter said.
There were dozens of newly wounded after Palestinians threw projectiles towards Israeli security forces who again used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators, the reporter said.