Bibi faces pressure over Aqsa site after 8 killed Man killed at Amman Israeli embassy
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced mounting pressure yesterday over new security measures at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site after a weekend of violence left eight people dead, with fears of further unrest. Israeli officials signaled they may be open to changing the measures at the Haram Al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, after metal detectors were installed at entrances following an attack that killed two policemen. The detectors remained in place yesterday, though cameras had also been mounted near at least one entrance to the compound in Jerusalem’s Old City - a possible indication of an alternative.
Meanwhile, a Jordanian was killed yesterday and an Israeli seriously wounded at the Israeli embassy in Amman, a security source said. “A Jordanian man was killed and an Israeli man wounded and is in a serious condition following an incident inside the (Israeli) embassy” in the residential Rabiyeh neighborhood of Amman, said the source. Jordanian security forces deployed in the streets around the embassy, an AFP correspondent said. Israel and Jordan are bound by a 1994 peace treaty, but tensions have been high in recent days.
Netanyahu was holding a cabinet meeting and was due to meet his security cabinet later yesterday. “Since the start of the events, I have held a series of assessments with security elements including those
Student groups and a number of local organizations gathered at the Kuwait University campus in Khaldiya yesterday to condemn ongoing Israeli violations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. The National Union of Kuwaiti Students, in collaboration with the Youth Association for Jerusalem, organized the rally under the slogan “Rage over Al-Aqsa” to support Palestinians. Another demonstration was held outside the Palestinian Embassy in Bayan yesterday.
Mohammad Al-Otaibi, President of the National Union of Kuwaiti Students, said Kuwait supported and will always support Palestine, and the Muslim world will not remain silent. “It is our responsibility to support them because Al-Aqsa belongs not only to the Palestinians - it also belongs to Muslims worldwide,” he said.
Yousef Shamsah, member of global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, said “our role is to spread awareness of the importance of boycotting the Zionist entity”. “We are trying not only to boycott Israeli products, but also companies that support them, such as G4S, which is a British security company that controls the Israeli airport, helps Israel run checkpoints, a police training center and prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held,” he said. “In response to international pressure, G4S has announced that it may sell its Israeli operations,” Shamsah noted.
Cleric Sheikh Mohammed Al Awadhi urged scholars and advocates to educate people about Palestine. “The recent situation in Aqsa requires strong knowledge of its history and our constant support for it,” he told the crowd. The event was attended by the Kuwaiti Literary Association, Jerusalem Cultural Forum, Kuwait Lawyers Association and the BDS movement.
in the field,” he said at the start of the meeting. “We are receiving from them an up-to-date picture of the situation, as well as recommendations for action, and we will decide accordingly.”
Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai - head of COGAT, the defense ministry agency responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories - signaled changes to the policy were possible. “We are examining other options and alternatives that will ensure security,” Mordechai said in an interview with Al-Jazeera. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who has announced he was freezing contacts with Israel over the dispute, said yesterday this included the security coordination that has been credited with preventing wider unrest in recent years. “They must know that they will be the main losers because we play an important role in assuring our security and theirs,” Abbas said.
The crisis has resonated internationally. The UN Security Council will hold closed-door talks today about the spiraling violence. Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit yesterday accused Israel of “playing with fire” with the new security measures, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called them an insult to the Muslim world. Pope Francis said he was following events with concern and urged dialogue and moderation.
Tensions have risen throughout the past week over the metal detectors at the compound, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, following the July 14 attack that killed two policemen. Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site. They have refused to enter the compound in protest and have prayed in the streets outside. Israeli authorities say the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the site and emerged from it to shoot the officers.
Friday’s main weekly Muslim prayers - which typically draw thousands to Al-Aqsa - brought the situation to a boil. In anticipation of protests, Israel barred men under 50 from entering the Old City for prayers. Clashes broke out between Israeli security forces and Palestinians around the Old City, in other parts of annexed east Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank, leaving three Palestinians dead. On Friday evening, a Palestinian broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank during a Sabbath dinner and stabbed four Israelis, killing three.
The Israeli army said the 19-year-old Palestinian had spoken in a Facebook post of the holy site and of dying as a martyr. On Saturday, Palestinian youths hurled stones and petrol bombs as the army used a bulldozer to close off the attacker’s West Bank village and prepare his house for demolition. Netanyahu said yesterday the demolition would go ahead “as soon as possible”. Israel frequently razes or seals attackers’ homes as a deterrent, although rights groups say this amounts to collective punishment. Clashes also flared in east Jerusalem and other Palestinian villages in the West Bank near Jerusalem on Saturday, police said. Two Palestinians died, including one when a petrol bomb exploded prematurely.
Israeli security forces said yesterday they had arrested 25 men active in the militant Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip. The arrests throughout the West Bank included “senior members”, a statement from the Shin Bet internal security agency said, and was part of preventive measures in the wake of “the tensions around the Temple Mount”. Also yesterday, a rocket fired at Israel from Gaza hit an open area, the Israeli army said, causing no injuries. No Palestinian group claimed the attack.
The holy site in Jerusalem has served as a rallying cry for Palestinians. In 2000, then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the compound helped ignite the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted more than four years. The Haram Al-Sharif is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is in east Jerusalem, seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community. Considered the third holiest site in Islam, it is the most sacred for Jews.
JERUSALEM: Israeli border guards attempt to disperse Palestinian Muslim worshippers outside Lions’ Gate, a main entrance to the AlAqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday as they gather in protest. — AFP