Mosque ‘vic­tory’ trig­gers clashes

Waikato Times Weekend - - WORLD -

IS­RAEL: Clashes broke out in­side Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque com­pound yes­ter­day as thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans re­turned to the holy site for the first time in two weeks af­ter a stand­off with po­lice.

Is­rael in­stalled metal de­tec­tors, cam­eras and rail­ings out­side the mosque af­ter two of its po­lice of­fi­cers were shot dead on July 14 but the move led to a back­lash of both civil protest and vi­o­lence from Pales­tini­ans.

Thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans prayed out­side the mosque each day rather than go through the new se­cu­rity set-up. But yes­ter­day, the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment re­moved the last of the rail­ings and the Waqf, the Is­lamic au­thor­ity that ad­min­is­ters the mosque, gave the all-clear for wor­ship­pers to re­turn.

Thou­sands of wor­ship­pers streamed into the Haram al-Sharif com­pound, known to Jews as the Tem­ple Mount, for af­ter­noon prayers. Some shed tears as they en­tered while others shouted ‘‘Al­lahu Ak­bar’’ in joy.

Ha­mas, the Is­lamist mil­i­tant group that con­trols the Gaza Strip, hailed the re­moval of the bar­ri­ers as a ‘‘vic­tory’’.

But clashes soon broke out be­tween riot po­lice and parts of the crowd.

Pales­tinian of­fi­cials said 46 Pales­tini­ans were in­jured. Is­raeli po­lice said youths had thrown stones at Jewish wor­ship­pers at the West­ern Wall.

Pales­tinian fac­tions had called for a Day of Rage against Is­raeli forces and Is­raeli of­fi­cials said they ex­pected large demon­stra­tions would go ahead.

Pales­tinian po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious groups that are of­ten at odds with each other have been gal­vanised and united by the protests over al-Aqsa and may be re­luc­tant to lose the mo­men­tum of the last two weeks.

Mah­moud Ab­bas, the un­pop­u­lar Pales­tinian pres­i­dent, has ap­peared em­bold­ened by the protests and re­port­edly gave per­mis­sion for the armed wing of his Fatah party to help or­gan­ise con­fronta­tions with Is­raeli forces.

Pales­tinian youths are ex­pected to con­front Is­raeli forces at check­points through­out the oc­cu­pied West Bank and may try to block roads that lead to Is­raeli set­tle­ments.

Pales­tinian and Is­raeli se­cu­rity agen­cies usu­ally work closely to­gether to pre­vent large demon­stra­tions from spin­ning out of con­trol but be­cause of the alAqsa sit­u­a­tion, Ab­bas has or­dered his forces not to co-op­er­ate with Is­raeli troops. – Tele­graph Group

PHOTO: REUTERS

Pales­tini­ans re­act as a stun grenade ex­plodes in a street at Jerusalem’s Old City out­side the com­pound known to Mus­lims as No­ble Sanc­tu­ary and to Jews as Tem­ple Mount, af­ter Is­rael re­moved all se­cu­rity mea­sures it had in­stalled at the com­pound.

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