Pales­tinian protests turn vi­o­lent

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH AND KARIN LAUB In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Ian Deitch of The Associated Press.

Pales­tini­ans run away from tear gas Fri­day dur­ing clashes in Jerusalem. An es­ca­lat­ing dis­pute over metal de­tec­tors at a con­tested Jerusalem shrine turned vi­o­lent on Fri­day, with wide­spread clashes be­tween Pales­tinian stone-throw­ers and Is­raeli troops.

JERUSALEM — Es­ca­lat­ing Is­raeli-Pales­tinian ten­sions over the Holy Land’s most con­tested shrine boiled over into vi­o­lence Fri­day that killed six peo­ple — three Pales­tini­ans in street clashes in Jerusalem and three Is­raelis in a stab­bing at­tack at a West Bank set­tle­ment.

Af­ter night­fall, a Pales­tinian sneaked into a home in the Is­raeli set­tle­ment of Halamish in the West Bank and stabbed to death three Is­raelis, the head of Is­rael’s res­cue ser­vice said.

An Is­raeli news site said those killed were two men and a woman who were hav­ing din­ner at the time. The army re­leased footage show­ing a blood-cov­ered kitchen floor.

Is­rael TV’s Chan­nel 10 said the as­sailant was in his late teens and had posted on Face­book that he was up­set by the events at the shrine. Eli Bin, the head of Is­rael’s MDA res­cue ser­vice, said an off-duty soldier next door heard screams, rushed to the home and shot the at­tacker through a win­dow. Bin said the at­tacker was wounded and taken to a hos­pi­tal.

Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, mean­while, an­nounced that he is freez­ing ties with Is­rael, deal­ing a blow to fledg­ling Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ef­forts to try to re­new long-dor­mant peace talks.

Ab­bas said con­tacts with Is­rael would be sus­pended on “all lev­els.” It was not im­me­di­ately clear if that means long-stand­ing se­cu­rity co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Is­raeli troops and Ab­bas’ forces will be halted.

At is­sue in the cur­rent round of vi­o­lence are metal de­tec­tors Is­rael in­stalled at the Jerusalem shrine, re­ferred to by Mus­lims as the No­ble Sanc­tu­ary and by Jews as the Tem­ple Mount, ear­lier this week, in re­sponse to a deadly at­tack by Arab gun­men there.

The metal de­tec­tors are per­ceived by the Pales­tini­ans as an en­croach­ment on Mus­lim rights and por­trayed by Is­rael as a needed se­cu­rity mea­sure af­ter the at­tack that killed two Is­raeli po­lice­men.

Ear­lier Fri­day, sev­eral thou­sand Pales­tini­ans in Jerusalem and the West Bank clashed with Is­raeli troops, burn­ing tires or throw­ing stones and fire­crack­ers. Troops fired live rounds, rub­ber bul­lets and tear gas. Three Pales­tini­ans were killed, and sev­eral dozen were hos­pi­tal­ized with live or rub­ber bul­let in­juries.

White clouds of tear gas rose from Jerusalem streets and West Bank flash points. In one neigh­bor­hood, Pales­tini­ans threw stones from be­hind a mat­tress used as a shield.

Is­rael also faced grow­ing crit­i­cism from the Mus­lim world, and thou­sands staged anti-Is­rael protests af­ter Fri­day prayers in Jor­dan and Ye­men. Turkey and Egypt also con­demned the vi­o­lence.

Is­rael said the metal de­tec­tors would re­main in place. Law­maker Tzachi Hanegbi, a con­fi­dant of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, said Is­rael would not sur­ren­der to what he said were “vi­o­lence and in­cite­ment” by those “at­tempt­ing to drag us into a re­li­gious war.”

Jerusalem’s top Mus­lim cleric, Mohammed Hus­sein, said protests, in­clud­ing mass street prayers out­side the shrine, would con­tinue un­til the de­vices are re­moved. He told wor­ship­pers Fri­day that they should pre­pare for a “long test of wills” with Is­rael.

“We will not back off,” he said.

The shrine, revered by Mus­lims and Jews, sits at the emo­tional epi­cen­ter of the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict, sym­bol­iz­ing the ri­val re­li­gious and na­tional nar­ra­tives of the two sides.

Dis­putes over the 37-acre, walled hill­top plat­form in Jerusalem’s Old City have re­peat­edly trig­gered con­fronta­tions in the past.

Ear­lier this week, Is­rael be­gan in­stalling metal de­tec­tors at the gates of the com­pound, say­ing ex­tra mea­sures were re­quired to pre­vent fur­ther at­tacks.

Mus­lim lead­ers por­trayed the metal de­tec­tors as part of a pur­ported Is­raeli cam­paign to ex­pand its con­trol over the shrine — a claim Is­rael de­nies. Mus­lim cler­ics urged wor­ship­pers to pray in the streets near the shrine, rather than sub­mit to the new se­cu­rity pro­ce­dures.

The faith­ful com­plied. Thou­sands flocked to the Old City each day this week for street prayers, kneel­ing on mats spread on cob­ble stone and as­phalt.

On Fri­day, the high­light of the Mus­lim re­li­gious week, Is­raeli po­lice se­verely re­stricted Mus­lim ac­cess to the Old City to pre­vent mass protests.

About 3,000 of­fi­cers were de­ployed at check­points in and around the city, turn­ing away Mus­lim men un­der the age of 50, in­clud­ing those try­ing to reach the city from Is­rael and the West Bank.

In the end, thou­sands reached the Old City — a frac­tion of the typ­i­cal Fri­day turnout of tens of thou­sands of wor­ship­pers.

Af­ter peace­ful prayers, clashes broke out in sev­eral ar­eas of Jerusalem and across the West Bank.

The Red Cres­cent said 390 Pales­tini­ans were hurt, in­clud­ing nearly 100 who were hos­pi­tal­ized with live fire or rub­ber bul­let in­juries. Is­raeli po­lice said five of­fi­cers were wounded.

The per­ceived threat to the shrine, which is home to the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques, has gal­va­nized Pales­tini­ans — es­pe­cially those in east Jerusalem, which was cap­tured by Is­rael in the 1967 Mideast war and quickly an­nexed. Since 1967, Is­rael has in­creas­ingly cut off east Jerusalem from its West Bank hin­ter­land, leav­ing the city’s Arab res­i­dents with­out po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

Mus­lim cler­ics stepped into the void this week, tak­ing the lead in prayer protests.

Un­der the post-1967 ar­range­ments, Mus­lims ad­min­is­ter the com­pound. Jews can visit, but not pray there. For decades, the status quo held, in part be­cause lead­ing rab­bis, cit­ing re­li­gious pu­rity laws, banned Jews from entering.

In re­cent years, re­li­gious opin­ion has shifted, and grow­ing num­bers of Jews are vis­it­ing the com­pound. This shift has stoked Mus­lim fears of a pur­ported Is­raeli plan to ex­pand Jewish con­trol there. Is­rael has re­it­er­ated that it has no in­ten­tion to change the status quo.

Fakhri Abu Diab, a 55-yearold wor­ship­per, said he feels Mus­lims must stand their ground.

“If we let them, [the Is­raelis] will take over the mosque com­pletely,” he said, stand­ing near the Old City. “If we re­sist them, they will stop.”

The com­pound is the third holi­est site of Is­lam, af­ter Mecca and Me­d­ina in Saudi Ara­bia. It is also Ju­daism’s holi­est site, once home to bib­li­cal Tem­ples.

Jor­dan, the cus­to­dian of the Jerusalem shrine, has re­peat­edly ap­pealed to Is­rael to re­move the de­vices. The two coun­tries co­op­er­ate closely on re­gional se­cu­rity is­sues, but fre­quently dis­agree on Is­rael’s poli­cies at the shrine.

On Fri­day, sev­eral thou­sand Jor­da­ni­ans protested against Is­rael in the Jor­da­nian cap­i­tal of Am­man.

Demon­stra­tors chanted, “the peo­ple want to lib­er­ate Al-Aqsa,” re­fer­ring to one of the mosques in the com­pound.



A Pales­tinian pro­tester on Fri­day throws back a tear gas can­is­ter fired by Is­raeli sol­diers dur­ing clashes on the Is­raeli bor­der with Gaza re­lated to protests against metal de­tec­tors Is­rael in­stalled at a shrine in Jerusalem.

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