Saturday, March 06, 2010

Jerusalem news - Sheikh Jarrah and Temple Mount

The situation seems to be heating up in Jerusalem again. Leftists who have been protesting Jewish settlers in neighborhoods of Arab east Jerusalem demonstrated today against those settlements, and there was a haredi counter-demonstration as well
Approximately 3,000 people gather in east Jerusalem neighborhood to protest evacuation of Arab families from their homes. Meanwhile, dozens of haredim hold prayer in Tomb of Simon the Just

Ronen Medzini
Published: 03.06.10, 20:43 / Israel News (Ynet)

Some 3,000 Jewish and Arab left-wing activists rallied in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem Saturday in order to protest against the settlement of Jews in the area and the evacuation of Arab families from their homes. The protesters gathered in a soccer field in the neighborhood and waved Israeli and Palestinian flags before marching towards the Tomb of Simon the Just.

"I'm glad to see there are still leftists in the country," left-wing activist Yoram Sorek told Ynet. He noted that "any political agreement will require Jerusalem's division and these settlements are aimed at preventing peace."

The religious site also attracted dozens of ultra-Orthodox worshippers and right-wing activists who came in order to pray and protest the High Court of Justice's ruling enabling the leftist demonstration. Police forces were deployed at the site.

The rightists chanted "Halacha state" and waved signs reading, "Leftists = Traitors".

Leading the right-wing protest National Union chairman MK Yaakov Katz said, "We are very glad the marchers are shouting and coming. Any esoteric protest of Israel-hating Arabs and 'Peace Now' against Jewish heritage plays to our advantage."

Katz added that "10 years ago they protest in Har Homa, now there are 20,000 people there. They demonstrated in Kedumin and Beit-El and there also are thousands of people."

A haredi demonstrator said, "These are a bunch of pathetic Jews who come to defend Arabs who throw people out. They don’t study the Torah, they have no clue, they are the greatest villains."

Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union) who arrived at the scene said, "The audacity of Israeli leftist groups has led them to betrayal in cooperation with Israel's enemies.

"This time they are disregarding the fact that any Jewish settler in the neighborhood is doing so backed by a court order."

The protest was made possible after the High Court granted the motion of Sheikh Jarrah residents who petitioned against the police's decision to ban the demonstration. According to the court ruling, the protest was to be held in a restricted area, while 300 activists were to be allowed to rally in the street for half an hour.
Ha'aretz also reports on the rally in Sheikh Jarrah.

And riots have started again on the Temple Mount, beginning on February 28:
Hebron tension spreads to Jerusalem: Youths barricaded in al-Aqsa Mosque since Saturday evening throw stones at passerby, prompting police forces to enter compound. Stones hurled at police in Old City as well; Four police officers and 18 protestors injured; seven suspects arrested

Efrat Weiss
Published: 02.28.10, 09:05 / Israel News (Ynet)

Morning of clashes in Jerusalem's Old City: Police forces entered the al-Aqsa Mosque plaza at the Temple Mount on Sunday morning after dozens of Arab youths who barricaded themselves in the mosque on Saturday night began hurling stones at passersby entering the Temple Mount compound.

Two policemen and two Border Guard officers were lightly injured by stones hurled in the Old City's alleys. They received medical treatment on site and resumed their activity. At least 18 protestors were injured and seven were arrested.

Sources in the mosque reported that at least eight worshippers were hurt by tear gas. According to the Palestinians, hundreds of policemen encircled the mosque, demanding that the youths evacuate themselves.

The police reported that some 30 Arab youths had barricaded themselves inside the mosques and that efforts made by the Waqf (the council managing Muslim sites) to remove them had failed. Police entered the mount's plaza following the stone throwing and closed its gates, and the youths fled into the mosque.

The police then opened the mount's gates to worshippers, but restricted entrance to the site to male worshippers with Israeli identity cards over the age of 50 and to female worshippers of all ages.

The mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority condemned the police forces' entry to the mosque compound, which he said was aimed at allowing extremists to enter the area. He warned against the serious implications of the police's entry.

Waqf sources said that Jewish worshippers had entered the compound and were protected by the police. A Jerusalem Police official strongly denied the claim, saying that "this is a lie. Some 1,000 visitors have entered the Temple Mount compound since the morning hours, both Jews and non-Jews."

Visits to the site continue as usual, although stones are occasionally being thrown from the mosques towards the police forces stationed at the entrances.

Stones were occasionally thrown at police officers in the alleys of the Old City, including near the Antonia Fortress, which is one of the entrances to the Temple Mount. There were no reports of injuries. Seven suspects were detained for questioning.

Some 100 girls who attempted to launch a protest march in the Sultan Suleiman area in east Jerusalem were stopped by the police.

It is estimated that Sunday's events at the Temple Mount come following the tension that arose over Israel's decision to include the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem to its list of national heritage sites.

Members of the Waqf and various Islamic organizations, including the Islamic Movement, urged Muslims over the weekend to flock to the Temple Mount, claiming that "radical Jewish organizations have called on their followers to arrive at the mount today and on Tuesday in an attempt to lay the cornerstone for the temple."

The Islamic organizations also called on Muslims to be on high alert around March 16, when they said extreme Jewish organizations were planning to mark the global day for the temple's reconstruction.
There was more trouble on March 5 (yesterday) after Friday prayers. Palestinians threw stones at Israeli police at the Mughrabi gate and at Jews praying at the Western Wall. There were also Palestinian protests elsewhere in the West Bank.

Police forces raid site to stop Muslim worshippers hurling stones at Western Wall, seize control of courtyard using stun grenades. Some 20 officers, 60 Palestinians injured. Five police evacuated to hospital in light condition.

Efrat Weiss
Published: 03.05.10, 13:27 / Israel News (Ynet)

Police forces on Friday raided the Temple Mount to stop youths hurling stones at passersby at the Western Wall after their weekly prayers. Dozens of police officers and worshippers were injured.

According to an initial report, Arab worshippers hurled stones at police forces at the Old City's Mugrabi Gate. Police forces removed the rioters and took over the Temple Mount courtyard using stun grenades.

Twenty police officers were lightly injured from the stones hurled at them. Five officers received initial medical treatment at the scene and were evacuated to Hadassah Medical Center and Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the city. Fifteen other officers who sustained light wounds were treated by emergency service crews at the scene.

Source in the Waqf and medical sources reported that at least 60 Palestinians were injured in the clashes. The Palestinians reported that the worshippers were hurt by tear gas, stun grenades and gas inhalation. According to the Palestinian, the forces entered the al-Aqsa Mosque and used force even in areas free of riots.

Following the clashes, dozens of youths fled into the al-Aqsa mosque. The police did not enter the mosque. A number of adult worshippers remained in the Temple Mount courtyard to try and calm the youths.

After making contact with the Waqf, the police retreated from the compound toward Mugrabi Gate to allow the older worshippers to exit the site.

Police generally restrict entrance to the Temple Mount compound to worshipers over the age of 50 when receiving information on planned riots. This week, however, police decided not to restrict entrance to the site.

Last week riots at the Temple Mount escalated, partly due to the cabinet's decision to include the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem in Israel's national heritage site plan.

Some 20 Arab youths from east Jerusalem barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa mosque last week and refused to exit it. Six police officers and two Border Guard officers were lightly injured in clashes that broke out in the Old City. A number of Arab protesters were also injured, and seven rioters were detained.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Syrians blamed the Israelis alone for the clashes on the Temple Mount.
According to a special statement released by the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, "Today's events were aimed at damaging the chances of resuming the peace process and Israel is crossing all the red lines – after the Arab League's monitoring committee recommended that the negotiations between the sides be resumed."

The statement also said that Abbas, who was being updated on the events in Jerusalem, had called on the American administration to "stop the adventure which may ignite a religious war in the region" and demanded that the international community "take responsibility and stop the Israeli recklessness, which may have serious implications on the entire region and on peace and security in the entire world."

Syria said Friday it "condemns the Israeli aggression" at the Temple Mount which showed the Jewish state rejected efforts to relaunch the peace process. "The desecration of Arab and Islamic sanctities comes as the Arab League accepted the launch of indirect negotiations... which is further evidence of the seriousness of Israel's quest for peace," said a foreign ministry statement. "It's also proof that the Israeli policy rejects the peace process and seeks to liquidate the Palestinian cause."

The clashes began as Arab worshippers began hurling stones at the Western Wall plaza and police forces stationed at the Mugrabi Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. The police forces removed the stone throwers and stormed the Temple Mount compound, using stun grenades. Dozens of youths fled into the al-Aqsa Mosque following the clashes. According to the police, the forces did not enter the mosque.
Unless there's something I'm missing here in these reports, the Israeli police did not decide to go arrest people on the Temple Mount - they acted because Arabs on the Temple Mount began throwing stones at police and at Jews at the Western Wall. The police reacted. Why does this mean that Israel is "crossing red lines"? If Abbas were talking about Israeli settlements in Arab east Jerusalem, he would have a good case, but he's not correct about this most recent incident at the Temple Mount.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference backed up Abbas and Syria with even more inflammatory remarks today:
The Organization of the Islamic Conference Saturday accused Israeli police of sacrilege by entering Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque and called for international intervention to "end Israeli aggression."

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Jeddah-based pan-Islamic body, said in a statement that Friday's fighting between Muslims and Israeli police at the Temple Mount compound in east Jerusalem, which injured dozens, was "a sacrilegious act of profanation of the holy Islamic site."

The police action was "a violation of international law and a flagrant attack on the freedom of religion of the nature that could take the region into a war between religions," he said in the statement.

Ihsanoglu called on the international community and the Quartet on Middle East peace -- the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations -- to "pay heed to the gravity of the Israeli violations and the threat they pose to the region now and in the future." He called for "an international intervention effective at every level to end Israeli aggressions and make Israel respect international law."
Of course, Mr. Ihsanoglu didn't mention the desecration of a Jewish holy place by rioters throwing stones at Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall. But that's probably because he doesn't believe that Jews have any rights to pray, much less live or have sovereignty, in Jerusalem.

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