Israel Deploys Thousands of Police; Outrage Grows Among Palestinians


05 October 2009

Israeli border police officer, masked plainclothes police officers detain Palestinian youth during clashes in east Jerusalem, 5 Oct 2009
Israeli
border police officer, masked plainclothes police officers detain
Palestinian youth during clashes in east Jerusalem, 5 Oct 2009

Israel has deployed thousands of police around Jerusalem’s Old City,
following several recent clashes between Jews and Palestinian Muslims
at the compound that houses sites holy to both groups.  

Israeli
police deployed thousands of additional officers at entrances to the
Old City leading to the compound containing the Al Aqsa mosque – sacred
to Muslims and the Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site.

Clashes
have erupted during the past week between Muslims and Jewish
worshippers, fueled largely by rumors that Jews were planning to storm
the compound.

Israel national police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld
says Monday was especially sensitive as 30,000 Jewish worshippers
approached the compound – known to Jews as the Temple Mount – at the
start of the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

“The Temple
Mount was open to Muslims that wanted to come and pray only from the
age of 50 upwards, and women of all ages,” Rosenfeld explained. “This
was necessary to prevent any disturbances from taking place on the
Temple Mount.”

Among those prevented from approaching the area
was 36-year-old Dmitri Diliani, a member of the Revolutionary Council
of the ruling Palestinian Fatah faction of Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas.  

“This is pure provocation of the Palestinian people since this is one of the holiest Muslim sites,” Diliani said.

Diliani,
a Christian, serves as the Fatah spokesman for Jerusalem. He told VOA
that Fatah is encouraging Palestinian Muslims to resist what he views
as Jewish efforts to take over the compound.

“Fatah stands at
a point where it will continue to organize the process of defending the
holy sites through popular effort and grass-roots mobilization,” he
said.

Monday saw mobilization by Palestinians against their own
leadership, as anger mounts over a decision by the government of
President Abbas to suspend efforts to bring war crimes charges against
Israeli officials involved in the assault on militants in the Gaza
Strip 10 months ago.

Hundreds of Palestinians protested
peacefully in the West Bank town of Ramallah near Jerusalem. The
protesters included Mustafa Barghouthi, a prominent commentator, who
said the Palestinian leaders’ decision showed little regard for the
people they represent.  

“They lack the ability to have
collective decision,” Barghouthi said. “There was no consultation and
I think they made a grave mistake against the interests of their own
people.”

Israel says it will maintain heightened security in Jerusalem until the tension around the holy sites subsides.  

In
2000, confrontations at the site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Western
Wall sparked a bloody, Palestinian uprising known as the Second
Intifada, which lasted for several years. 

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