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Police arrest 18 Palestinians near Temple Mount

reprinted from The Jerusalem Post
19/02/2012

by Melanie Lidman and Yaakov Lappin

Palestinians throw stones at police, tourists in J'lem's Old City; Palestinians say religious Jews tried to storm Aksa Mosque.

Police arrested 18 Arab worshipers on Sunday during unrest at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, after a large group of 50 protesters pelted tourists and police forces with stones.

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said the protesters were reacting to reports that a group of right-wing Jews bent on destroying the mosques and building the Third Temple on the site planned to ascend to the Temple Mount en masse, similar to rumors of an attempt led by former Likud primary candidate Moshe Feiglin last Sunday.

Three officers were wounded during the clashes, Police Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said, describing the incident as a "disturbance on the Temple Mount."

Stone-throwers attacked a group of Christian tourists that were visiting the site. At least 40 officers entered the Temple Mount to deal with the situation, said Rosenfeld.

Police arrested three suspects on the scene who were involved directly in the attacks. Police arrested ten additional suspects as they exited afternoon prayers at the Al Aksa mosque, and five more Sunday evening. They expected to make several further arrests.

Rosenfeld said the Waqf, which manages the Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount, participated with police to quiet the tense situation.

The incident came after unfounded Palestinians reports that a group of "religious [Jewish] Israelis" tried to "storm" the Temple Mount on Sunday morning, according to Jordanian semi-official newspaper Ad-Dustour.

Palestinian sources claimed over the weekend that a group of Jews would attempt to storm the Temple Mount in order to "strengthen Israeli sovereignty over the site," according to the Jordanian newspaper.

Police said no Jews were at the Temple Mount during the altercation. The site remained opened to tourists throughout the day.

Last week, Likud activists, including Feiglin, tried to to access the Temple Mount but were barred entry by police. Police accused the right-wing activists of attempting to disrupt order after a poster publicizing the event called for thousands to come and "Purify the site from the enemies of Israel who stole the land, and build the Third Temple on the ruins of the mosques." Feiglin denied that Likud activists made the posters.

Last Sunday protests also broke out in the Jordanian capital of Amman near the Israeli embassy in reaction to the news of the Likud attempt to ascend to the Temple Mount.

 

 

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