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Jerusalem police clash with protesters
From the Financial Times of Wed, 05 Nov 2014 10:05:08 GMT
Palestinian protestors wave their national flag during a rally on November 2, 2014 at the Qalandia checkpoint, between Ramallah and Jerusalem City, against the rare closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the weekend after tense clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces after officers shot dead a Palestinian suspected of trying to murder a hardline Israeli rabbi, and the age restrictions imposed on those visiting the compound after it was re-opened. Al-Aqsa and adjacent neighbourhoods have seen months of violence, with the mosque compound a rallying point for Palestinian resistance to perceived Jewish attempts to take control of it. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)©Getty

Israeli police briefly closed, then reopened Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday following clashes at the holy site and in the Old City, a week after an assassination attempt on a rightwing Israeli-American rabbi.

Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinian protesters throwing rocks and launching fireworks at al-Aqsa, known to Jews as Temple Mount, as a group of supporters of Yehudah Glick, who remains in hospital after being injured in the attack, waited to enter the site.

The Temple Institute, Mr Glick’s rightwing religious group that wants a destroyed Jewish temple to be rebuilt at the site, had called on supporters to visit Temple Mount on Wednesday morning.

Police said that they used stun grenades to disperse the Palestinian protesters and loud shots resounded from the plaza where non-Muslim visitors queue to visit the site.

“Police units that were at the scene dispersed the rioters and the area was opened to regular visits by non-Muslim visitors,” a police spokesman said.

In the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City near al-Aqsa, Israeli police fired stun grenades to disperse Palestinian demonstrators, among them the suspended firebrand Palestinian Israeli Knesset member Haneen Zoabi, who remonstrated angrily with police. Haaretz, the left-leaning Israeli newspaper, citing Palestinian medical sources, said one man was injured seriously inside the compound.

Foreign observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including Jordan, which administers the sensitive holy site through a religious trust, are calling for calm after four months of sporadic unrest in Arab East Jerusalem that began with the killing of a Palestinian teenager in July and continued through out Israel’s summer military operation in the Gaza Strip and after it had ended.

Wednesday’s unrest came after signs that tensions were calming in the city, amid cold, rainy weather and fewer clashes between Israeli security forces and protesting youths. Israeli authorities have arrested more than 800 Palestinians in Jerusalem, during the latest conflict and Benjamin Netanyahu’s government this week approved a law making rock-throwing punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years.

Palestinian officials accuse Israel of harbouring plans to change the longstanding status quo on Jewish prayer at the site; President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel’s closure of the compound last Thursday was a “declaration of war”.

Mr Netanyahu says Israel has no plans to change the status quo and on Sunday urged Knesset members, some of whom are calling for a change, to “calm tensions regarding Temple mount and show responsibility and restraint”.

In an interview on Tuesday, Nir Barkat, Jerusalem’s mayor, said that the unrest in the city was calming down and that the level of security would soon be “better” than it had been before the unrest began in July.

“The mass of violence – of stone-throwing, of riots – is behind us,” Mr Barkat said.

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