Jerusalem police are on high alert Friday morning as Muslim prayers take place at the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. There is concern that worshipers will be inspired to further violence, as Arab rioting near the Old City continues for a third day. There is a massive police presence in the Old City and no Muslim males under the age of 50 are being allowed on the Temple Mount.
Rioters have thrown rocks at passersby, police, vehicles and buildings, wounding one officer and 11 civilians. Firebombs have also been used. Four buses sustained severe damage, and three cars were burnt.
16 rioters were arrested early on Friday morning, all of them Arab residents of Jerusalem from the neighborhoods of Mei Shiloach (Silwan) and A-Tor.
Police are planning for possible riots on Tuesday, which will mark 10 years since the day that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, then the leader of the Knesset opposition, visited the Temple Mount. Muslim worshipers reacted to the presence of a Jewish leader on the Temple Mount with riots so intense that they were considered by many to be the first attacks of the Oslo War (Second Intifada).
Palestinian violence in Jerusalem leaves 16 injured, including 5 policemen
Israeli police stormed Temple Mount Wednesday Sept. 22 where Muslim worshippers barricaded themselves inside the Al Aqsa Mosque after they rioted and threw stones below to the Western Wall. The police did not enter the mosque. On the Mount of Olives an Israeli was stabbed in the back and moderately injured.
Four Israeli policemen and four Israel civilians were injured in the riots spreading around the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and the Old City. They erupted at the funeral of Samir Sirhan, who was killed earlier in Silwan by an Israeli security guard shooting his way out of a mob ambush closing in on his car.
The funeral party hurled rocks at passing Israeli civilians and police brought in to restore order and torched Israeli cars. Eight rioters arrested. After nightfall, Palestinians returned to the attack, throwing firebombs at police patrols raising the number of injured on both sides to 16 including 5 policemen.
To add further fuel to this fire, the settlement freeze is about to end. This will almost ensure more rioting:
Settlers prepare for end of West Bank building freeze
Settlers have hauled construction equipment into a settlement deep inside the West Bank in preparation for the end of the 10-month construction moratorium scheduled to take place on Sunday.
Pro-settler MK Danny Danon (Likud) said Saturday that activists plan to lay the cornerstone of a new neighborhood in the Revava settlement Sunday, the last day of the slowdown.
Nawaf Souf, the Palestinian deputy governor in the area, said settlers have moved construction equipment and 20 to 30 mobile homes into Revava in recent days. "The moment that the freeze is lifted, they will do the work openly," he said.
The end of the settlement slowdown presents the first major crisis in Mideast peace talks launched early this month in Washington.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who imposed the slowdown 10 months ago as a peace gesture, said he will not extend the restrictions. But the Palestinians say they will not continue negotiations if building resumes. The US is trying to broker a compromise.
In a furious, last-minute round of diplomacy, the Obama administration is pressing Israel to extend the settlement slowdown, while urging Abbas not to make good on his threat to leave the negotiations.
Well, so much for the peace-process. We'll see where this goes. Based on events of the past, it seems a good bet that Israel will
be the first to blink and reinstate the building freeze. Either way, its almost a guarantee that violence will continue. Violence will break out if any peace plan is approached (or agreed) and violence will ensue if the building freeze ends.
So it looks like violence will break out with any of the foreseeable scenarios. Business as usual in the Middle East.