Bibi faces pres­sure over Aqsa site af­ter 8 killed Man killed at Am­man Is­raeli em­bassy

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Faten Omar

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

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