Friday, September 18, 2015

Police Gird For Temple Mount Violence, Security Council 'Gravely Concerned', Rioters Have Turned Temple Mount Into 'Warehouse Of Terror'

Police gird for Temple Mount violence Friday as unrest persists

Police officials said they would limit Muslim access to the Temple Mount Friday morning as the capital geared up for possible violence after a week that saw several heavy clashes atop the holy site.
Police said they would prohibit the entry of men under 40 to the compound after receiving intelligence reports indicating “young Arabs” planned to disrupt the peace during Muslim Friday prayers at the site, a spokesperson said.

Women at all ages will be allowed on the esplanade, known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims.

The move comes as unrest persists in some parts of the capital, touched off by days of clashes between Israeli forces and Muslim protesters at the Temple Mount.

Police have beefed up their presence across the city, including bolstering positions in the Old City and near the Temple Mount, in a bid to quell the protests.
The rock throwing, which turned deadly Sunday night when an Israeli motorist was hit with rocks thrown from a Palestinian neighborhood and crashed his car in a southern neighborhood of the city, has vexed officials, and political leaders have vowed to crack down on stonings and other “popular” attacks via harsher punishments and allowing increased use of force, including live fire.
Several rock and firebomb attacks were reported in parts of Jerusalem Thursday evening. A bus driver was lightly wounded when rocks were thrown at his bus near the Hizmeh checkpoint. Elsewhere, near Mount Scopus, Palestinians coming from the village of Isawiyah threw Molotov cocktails at a guard post.
Rocks were also hurled at the light rail near the Shuafat neighborhood, causing damage but no casualties.
A bus also caught fire near the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, in a suspected Molotov cocktail attack. The driver said he left the bus after being hit by rocks and returned to find the vehicle alight. No injures were reported in that incident.

Earlier Thursday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and told him that Israel was acting against the violence on the Temple Mount.

Netanyahu added that Israel was strictly maintaining the status quo, which prohibits Jewish prayer at the sensitive site, while the Palestinian incitement was trying to upset the status quo.

Netanyahu’s conversation with Ban came after the government reiterated to the Jordanian government – which is the legal custodian of the Temple Mount – that it had no plans to change the conditions on the mountain.
Palestinian reports, some coming from Hamas officials, that Israel was trying to advance a division of the Temple Mount’s territory, were dismissed by the government as complete fabrications.
King Abdullah earlier warned that Jordan would need to act to prevent what he called Israeli “provocations” on the Temple Mount, threatening to cut diplomatic ties. Other Muslim leaders also condemned Israeli actions on the Temple Mount, including Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was accused of fanning the flames by unnamed Israeli officials, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.

Police preparations for violence during Friday prayers comes after Thursday and Wednesday offered some respite from three consecutive days of violence near the al Aqsa Mosque from Sunday, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and until Tuesday when the holiday ended.
The violence began Sunday when police, acting on a tip from the Shin Bet security service, raided the mount and found pipe bombs and other improvised weapons, apparently prepared in advance for an organized riot.

Late Sunday night, Alexander Levlovitz, 64, was killed when a rock thrown at his car in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood caused him to lose control of his car and crash.
Acting Police Commissioner Bentzi Sau said Tuesday that police actions on the Temple Mount in the previous days were based on valid intelligence reports, and vowed to bring violent protesters to justice.
“Over the past three days, we have seen attempts by a number of individuals who are trying to aggravate and exacerbate the security situation in Jerusalem, and destabilize the security and peaceful coexistence in the city,” he said.
Sau ordered an open-ended reinforcement of Israel’s security presence in the capital until calm was restored. Hundreds of additional officers are being deployed, with the goal of thwarting more violence and arresting those responsible for attacks in recent days.
Sau said there’d been “an upsurge” in attacks, including stone-throwing and petrol-bomb throwing at police.

With police on high alert in Jerusalem, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Friday condemned the PA and Arab-Israeli lawmakers for spreading “incitement and lies” about the Temple Mount and fomenting unrest.
Palestinian rioters have stashed weapons on the holy site, Erdan asserted, turning the compound into a “warehouse of terror.”
Erdan’s comments came as the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the draft of Border Police reservists to bolster security in the capital.
“I deeply regret the incitement and lies that the PA, headed by Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Arab MKs have spread about the Temple Mount,” Erdan said at the Western Wall below the compound.

Hundreds of policemen were deployed in East Jerusalem and around the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning in anticipation of Palestinian riots. Acting on intelligence reports, the police were gearing up for violence following the afternoon prayers, after a week that saw several heavy clashes atop the holy site.
In the West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces was also on high alert after the Hamas terror group called for a “Day of Rage” Friday in response to the three days of violent confrontations between Palestinians and the Israel Police on the Temple Mount.
The UN Security Council late Thursday night expressed “grave concern” over the tensions and urged restraint. The council statement said Muslims at the site “must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocations.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor reacted Friday morning to the UN Security Council’s statement concerning the escalating tensions on in Jerusalem saying that “When the Palestinians set the Temple Mount ablaze, Mahmoud Abbas fuels the fire, and the Security Council fans the flames, it is a recipe for a regional explosion.” 
The United Nations Security Council had called for “restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric and upholding the historic status quo” on the Temple Mount on Thursday evening.
The Security Council expressed its “grave concern” and urged all sides to “work cooperatively together to lower tensions and discourage violence at holy sites in Jerusalem.” 

“[...] Muslim worshipers at the Haram Al-Sharif must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocation,” the statement pointed out. 

Member states of the Security Council also wrote that visitors should be without fear of violence or intimidation.

“This statement, which only uses the Arabic name for the Temple Mount, affirms the right of Muslims to be present an to pray at the compound, but completely ignores the Palestinian violence, the deep connection of the Jewish People to the Temple Mount, and the right of all to visit the site,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor responded.

Prosor also pointed his finger at Mahmoud Abbas saying that the Palestinian leader had chosen to “fuel the fire in the most shameful manner”.
According to him, “The Chairman of the Palestinian Authority encourages and legitimizes extremist Islamic activities with his anti-Semitic remarks.”

Earlier Thursday morning, Prosor had sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon reiterating Israel’s commitment to maintain the status quo on Temple Mount as well as “safeguard the holy sites of the three monotheistic faiths in Jerusalem.” 

The Israeli Ambassador added that “any attempt by the UN to equivocate or avoid a clear statement denouncing those responsible for the outbreak of violence will only encourage further destabilizing activities, and further inflame an already dangerous situation.” 
Clashes on the holy site have been escalating since Sunday. The violence cost the life of one Israeli citizen and injured dozens. Israeli security forces have been placed on high alert on Friday morning, ahead of protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank which should take place after afternoon prayers. 

The United Nations Security Council is expressing “grave concern” after violence this week at Jerusalem’s holiest site and is calling for restraint and calm.
The council statement says Muslims at the site “must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocations.”
It also says that “visitors should be without fear of violence or intimidation.
“The members of the Security Council called for the exercise of restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric, and upholding unchanged the historic status quo” at the compound “in word and in practice,” added the statement.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor castigated the Security Council statement for its omission of Palestinian violence at the flashpoint site.

On Thursday, Saudi King Salman spoke by phone with US President Barack Obama on a series of regional issues including the recent violence in Jerusalem, urging him to stop “Israeli attacks” at the site and back UN action to halt the violence.

Earlier Thursday, Salman appealed to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and members of the Security Council for “urgent measures” after clashes at the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa Mosque, state media reported.
Salman “expressed strong condemnation of the dangerous Israeli escalation” at the holy site where Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police for three straight days, SPA reported.
“He called for serious and speedy international efforts and for the intervention of the Security Council to take all urgent measures to stop these violations,” it said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke with the UN chief Thursday, telling him that Israel was working to end the violence.
“Unlike the Palestinian side’s incitement, Israel is taking pains to preserve the status quo,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.
He added that Israel would respond aggressively to stone-throwing and firebomb attacks, which have caused the deaths of innocent Israelis.

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