Pales­tini­ans barred from Jerusalem Old City

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH BEN­HAIDA

Is­rael took the rare and dras­tic step of bar­ring Pales­tini­ans from Jerusalem’s Old City on Sun­day as ten­sions mounted fol­low­ing at­tacks that killed two Is­raelis and wounded a child.

The re­stric­tions will be in place for two days, with only Is­raelis, tourists, res­i­dents of the area, busi­ness own­ers and stu­dents al­lowed, po­lice said.

Wor­ship at the sen­si­tive al-Aqsa mosque com­pound will be lim­ited to men aged 50 and above. There will be no age re­stric­tions on women, and wor­ship­pers will be al­lowed to en­ter through one spe­cific gate.

The Pales­tinian gov­ern­ment de­nounced “Is­raeli es­ca­la­tion” af­ter the an­nounce­ment of the ban, which Is­raeli Public Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan called un­prece­dented.

The usu­ally bustling al­ley­ways of the walled Old City were mostly quiet on Sun­day morn­ing, with stores closed and hun­dreds of po­lice guard­ing en­trances. Some shops be­gan grad­u­ally open­ing later in the day.

Po­lice fired stun grenades and rub­ber bul­lets to dis­perse protesters at one gate, an AFP jour­nal­ist re­ported.

Some 300,000 Pales­tini­ans live in Is­raeli-an­nexed east Jerusalem, where the Old City is lo­cated.

The at­tacks late Satur­day and early Sun­day came with Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces al­ready on alert af­ter re­cent clashes at the alAqsa com­pound and sur­round­ing Old City, as well as the mur­der in the West Bank of a Jewish set­tler cou­ple in front of their young chil­dren.

On Satur­day night, a Pales­tinian said to be an Is­lamist mil­i­tant killed two Is­raeli men and wounded a woman and a tod­dler in a knife and gun at­tack in the Old City. Po­lice shot dead the at­tacker.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent early Sun­day, a 19- year- old Pales­tinian stabbed and wounded a passerby in west Jerusalem be­fore be­ing shot dead by po­lice while flee­ing.

West Bank, East Jerusalem Clashes

There were clashes else­where overnight and on Sun­day, and the Red Cres­cent re­ported 77 Pales­tini­ans wounded from both live rounds and rub­ber bul­lets.

Another 139 had been treated for tear gas in­hala­tion and six for in­juries sus­tained in beat­ings by sol­diers or Jewish set­tlers, a Red Cres­cent spokes­woman said.

Clashes broke out in ar­eas in­clud­ing Jenin in the West Bank, where Is­raeli sol­diers raided a refugee camp to ar­rest a Ha­mas of­fi­cial, and the east Jerusalem neigh­bor­hood of Is­sawiya, where the at­tacker in Sun­day morn­ing’s stab­bing, iden­ti­fied as Fadi Al­loun, was from.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu was to re­turn from the United States on Sun­day and hold con­sul­ta­tions with De­fense Min­is­ter Moshe Yaalon. His se­cu­rity cab­i­net is also to meet on Mon­day, af­ter the end of the Jewish Sukkot hol­i­day, Is­raeli media re­ported.

There have been fears that the spo­radic vi­o­lence could spin out of con­trol, with some warn­ing of the risk of a third Pales­tinian in­tifada, or upris­ing.

Last week, in his ad­dress to the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly, Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mah­mud Ab­bas said he was no longer bound by pre­vi­ous ac­cords with Is­rael, ac­cus­ing the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment of vi­o­lat­ing them.

Child Wounded

Satur­day’s Old City at­tack saw a two-year-old child slightly wounded in the leg and taken to hos­pi­tal. A woman was in se­ri­ous con­di­tion, res­cue ser­vices said.

Po­lice spokesman Micky Rosen­feld said it ap­peared the child had been shot.

The two men who were killed were a 41-year-old rabbi and res­i­dent of the Old City as well as a 21-year-old who lived in a West Bank set­tle­ment and was an off­duty soldier, Is­raeli media said.

Media re­ports said three of the vic­tims were mem­bers of the same ul­tra-Ortho­dox fam­ily on their way to the Western Wall, the holi­est site where Jews can pray.

The at­tacker first used a knife, but re­port­edly took a gun from one of the male vic­tims and fired at po­lice when they re­sponded af­ter be­ing alerted, be­fore he was him­self shot dead.

Po­lice named him as Mo­han­nad Shafiq Halani, 19, from a vil­lage near Ra­mal­lah in the West Bank.

Mil­i­tant group Is­lamic Ji­had said he was one of its mem­bers, but did not claim re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack. Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas, in power in the Gaza Strip, praised the at­tack as “a heroic act of re­sis­tance.”

The United States con­demned it, with State Depart­ment spokesman John Kirby say­ing Washington was “very con­cerned about mount­ing ten­sions in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces have been on high alert dur­ing re­cent Jewish and Mus­lim hol­i­days, par­tic­u­larly with Jews vis­it­ing the sen­si­tive al-Aqsa com­pound, which they call the Tem­ple Mount.

The eight-day Jewish Sukkot hol­i­day be­gan last Sun­day and has con­tin­ued all week.

Thurs­day night’s mur­der of a Jewish set­tler cou­ple in the West Bank in front of their four chil­dren fur­ther fu­elled ten­sions.

The mur­ders came hours af­ter Ne­tanyahu ad­dressed the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York, where he called for a re­sump­tion of di­rect peace talks with the Pales­tini­ans.

Ab­bas ad­dressed the U.N. a day ear­lier, is­su­ing his dec­la­ra­tion that he was no longer bound by pre­vi­ous ac­cords and push­ing for a mul­ti­lat­eral peace ef­fort.

AP AP

(1) Pales­tini­ans in­spect the house of Qais al-Saadi, a mem­ber of Ha­mas’ al-Qas­sam Brigades, af­ter an Is­raeli mil­i­tary raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Sun­day, Oct. 4. (2) Is­raeli rel­a­tives and friends carry the body of Rabbi Ne­hemia Lavi, dur­ing his fu­neral at a ceme­tery in Jerusalem, Sun­day. (3) AFP Is­raeli pho­tog­ra­pher Me­na­hem Ka­hana, cen­ter, is roughed up by an Is­raeli po­lice­man dur­ing a demon­stra­tion in a street in the Mus­lim quar­ter of Jerusalem’s Old City Sun­day, as Is­rael took a rare and dras­tic step of bar­ring Pales­tini­ans from the Old City as ten­sions mounted fol­low­ing at­tacks that killed two Is­raelis and wounded a child.

AFP

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