October 10, 2009

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Fresh Clashes Mar Al-Aqsa Prayers

October 9, 2009

Palestinians throw stones at riot police in East Jerusalem 09.10.09
Protesters threw stones at police in riot gear

Clashes have broken out in East Jerusalem amid high tensions after Palestinian groups called for a day of protest over access to al-Aqsa mosque.

Eleven police officers were injured and at least two Palestinians arrested as youths threw stones.

But Friday prayers at the flashpoint holy site passed off largely peacefully amid a heavy Israeli police presence.

Meanwhile, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said talks with US envoy George Mitchell were "constructive".

Mr Mitchell was due to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, and to hold further talks with Mr Netanyahu's aides on Saturday.

US attempts to restart peace negotiations appear to have stalled over Israel's refusal to meet US and Palestinian demands that it freeze all settlement activity in the West Bank.

Israel has made clear that it intends to keep building in East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians want the capital of their future state.

The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of seeking to "Judaise" East Jerusalem, and of allowing extremists access to the al-Aqsa mosque compound while denying it to Muslims.

Thousands of extra Israeli police were deployed on Friday after sporadic clashes over the past two weeks, apparently sparked by Palestinian fears that Jewish extremists were seeking to enter the third holiest site in Islam.

The complex, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and Jews as Temple Mount, houses both al-Aqsa mosque and the Jewish holy site, the Western Wall.

The Islamist group Hamas had called for a "day of rage" on Friday, local media said, while its rival Fatah had urged a strike and peaceful protests in support of the mosque.

The Islamic Movement - a political organisation based in Israel - had urged Muslim citizens of Israel to flock to Jerusalem to "defend al-Aqsa".

On Friday Israeli police maintained restrictions under which only female worshippers and men over the age of 50 were permitted to enter the mosque area.

The site and surrounding area in the Old City remained calm, with many shops closed.

But in the Ras al-Amoud area of East Jerusalem, masked Palestinian youths began hurling stones at police in riot gear.

Clashes were reported at Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

And the Islamic movement Hamas held a rally in the Gaza Strip, which it controls.

Tensions have been high since 30 people were injured in a riot at the al-Aqsa complex in late September.

Palestinians threw stones at visitors they believed were right-wing Jews, although Israeli police say they were French tourists.

The site has been a flashpoint for violence in the past, including the beginning of the intifada or uprising that started in 2000.

Temple Mount Entry Restricted Following Riots

Israel News
October 4, 2009

Jerusalem Police holds security assessment following capital riots, decides to limit visitation to religious site to worshipers only.

The Jerusalem Police decided to keep the Temple Mount compound closed to visitors Monday.

The decision followed a security assessment held at the district's headquarters in the wake of Sunday's riots.

Nevertheless, police will allow Muslim Worshipers aged 50 and over and women of all ages, who carry Israeli IDs, to attend services.

The police initially restricted access to the compound – both to tourists and visitors – as a precautionary measure, after learning that residents of east Jerusalem were urged to "come to protect the Mount." Large police forces were deployed in the Old City as well.

The would-be precautionary measure backfired, as shortly after word that the compound had been closed spread, some 150 Arabs arrived at the Lions Gate and began stoning security forces.

The demonstrators were pushed back towards the Wadi Joz neighborhood, where they continued to riot.

Two police officers were lightly injured and five rioters were arrested, including Fatah's Jerusalem portfolio holder Hatem Abdel Kader and Sheikh Kamal Khatib, of the Northern Islamic Movement.

All five were arraigned Sunday evening by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court and were released on bail. The court issued a restraining order against both, barring Abdel Kader from the Old City for 15 days, and Khatib from Jerusalem-proper for 15 days as well.

Arab Reporter Wounded During Jerusalem Riots Slams Police Conduct

Israel News
October 4, 2009

Abdallah Zidan arrived at Temple Mount compound to pray, cover events for Islamic Movement's website. 'Officer hit me with baton for no reason,' he says. Police deny claims.

A reporter for the Arab-Israeli news website PLS48.net was injured during the riots that broke out Sunday morning at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem's Old City. He claims a police officer struck him with a baton and disappeared. Police reject the claims.

Reporter Abdallah Zidan arrived at the Temple Mount at dawn to cover the prayers for his website, which is sponsored by the Islamic Movement's northern branch.

Many heeded Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raad Salah's call to arrive at the Al-Aqsa Mosque after word got out that extreme-right wing Jews would be making their way to the site as well.

Zidan, a resident of the Manda village in the Galilee was among the visitors, and along with a group of fellow worshipers arrived at the entrance gate at around 5 am. A tumult suddenly erupted near Sheikh Kamal Khatib, Salah's deputy, who was standing in Zidan's vicinity.

Khatib, who was later arrested on suspicion of incitement, was surrounded by people who prevented officers from reaching him. Zidan claims that during the fracas a police officer struck him with a baton in a forceful manner.
"I started bleeding from my eye, the people around me tried to help but the police officer disappeared," Zidan recalled.
'Officers behaving like animals'

Zidan was evacuated to an east Jerusalem hospital and transferred by ambulance to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.
"I was lucky the actual eye wasn't hurt, it was very close," said Zidan, who required stitches.

"Police officers were behaving very brutally, like animals. They came and hit me for no reason. Media personnel who come for news coverage cannot be hurt in such a way," he said.
The reporter added that he intends on filing a complaint against the officer with the Justice Ministry.

Jerusalem Police rejected the claims and stated:
"Border Guard forces together with minority section officers requested Kamal Khatib to come with them, which he did. Nothing unusual occurred at any stage of his arrest. It went by very smoothly."

35 Lightly Injured in Temple Mount Riots

Israel News
September 27, 2009

Group of tourists enters holy site in Jerusalem accompanied by police force. Some 150 Muslim worshippers gather around them, some hurling stones. Eighteen policemen, 17 worshippers lightly hurt; 11 people detained.

Eighteen policemen and 17 Muslim worshippers were lightly injured in riots which erupted Sunday morning at the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem.

The police officers were wounded by stones hurled by rioters and were evacuated to the Shaare Zedek and Hadassah Ein Kerem hospitals in the capital. Eleven people were arrested on suspicion of hurling stones.

Following the riots, the police prevented worshippers from entering the compound.

The incident began when a group of tourists entered the Temple Mount compound accompanied by a police force. At a certain stage, some 150 worshippers started gathering around them and calling out towards them.

Some of the worshippers began throwing stones at the group. The police force fired stun grenades in an attempt to gain control of the riot. Eighteen police officers were lightly injured by stones. Six of them received medical treatment on the site and the rest were evacuated to hospitals.

Fifteen worshippers were injured by stones and two were lightly hurt by the stun grenades and were evacuated to the al-Maqasid Hospital in east Jerusalem. Adult worshippers attempted to calm things down, while the group of tourists was removed from the site.

Several stone throwing incidents were recorded in the alleys of the Old City after the riot. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Many police officers were deployed in the area, and Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen arrived at the Temple Mount and held an evaluation of the situations with senior commanders.

Police on high alert

The defense establishment has declared a heightened state of alert across the country ahead of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. On Saturday evening, a closure was imposed on the West Bank until Monday at midnight. Residents will only be allowed to cross into Israel in humanitarian cases.

The defense establishment will focus its Yom Kippur Eve activity around cemeteries, while on Yom Kippur itself forces will be deployed around synagogues.

Vehicles will not be allowed to pass from east Jerusalem to the western part of the city in order to minimize the friction between Jews and Arabs.

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