Dozens of Palestinians on Wednesday that barricaded themselves in the al-Aksa mosque on Temple Mount in Jerusalem dispersed and left the scene after Israeli security forces exited the area.

Police reported that a relative calm has been restored in the area after a day of violent clashes.

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The violence started when riots erupted in Silwan early in the morning after a 35-year-old east Jerusalem resident was killed.

Throughout the day, violence spread from Silwan to the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, as angry rioters threw thousands of stones at police forces.


Ten people were injured, including a 35-year-old Israeli in moderate condition who was stabbed in the back near the Mount of Olives. Police reported that attendees threw stones at officers, vehicles and buses causing injuries and damage, and that a police vehicle and several other vehicles were set alight near Jerusalem's Old City.

Three Egged buses were destroyed by stoning near the Western Wall, injuring one of the bus drivers. The buses were missing all of their windows and one had blood splattered on the driver’s seat. 

Eight people were arrested for disturbing the peace, five at the Temple Mount and three on Derech HaOfer, the road that leads from the Mount of Olives cemetery towards the Old City and back to Silwan.

The death of the east Jerusalem resident happened early Wednesday morning, when a security guard was driving a security vehicle on his way to a Jewish home when residents blocked the street with trash cans and began hurling rocks at him.

The guard, fearing for his life, allegedly opened fire with his personal firearm at a group of rock throwers and killed a resident. Police found two knives and screwdriver on the body of the victim, who had a previous criminal history and was known to police.

Ofer Rosenman, manager of the security company which the security guard is employed by, spoke to Channel 2 news about the incident.

"Today, between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., a security jeep was driving on a street at the outskirts of the neighborhood. Usually there are two security guards, but this time there was only one," he explained. "At the Amudim junction, the street was blocked by several suspicious individuals, it was really like an ambush."

Rosenman told Channel 2 news that Palestinians surrounded the vehicle from every direction.

"They threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, so the guard exited his vehicle and shot in the air and then shot at one of the people after he felt that they wanted to kidnap him."

According to Channel 2 news, the security guard is employed by a security company which was hired to protect Jewish residents living in east Jerusalem. The company belongs to the Housing Office and its role is to prevent attacks on residents and structures. Rosenman said that security guards are attacked everyday:

"We are talking about attacks with rocks, metal poles and gunshots several times a day," he explained.

The security guard was arrested and taken for investigation by the police, though he was released later that afternoon on restricted bail, according to the police.

A neighborhood resident said this was the first time a private guard had fatally shot an Arab resident. In two previous incidents, which happened years ago, the guards shot residents in the leg, not fatally.

“Before they shoot they need to warn us, they need to notify the people, and they didn’t,” said a neighbor of the victim. “Usually they shoot up to the sky, they don’t shoot people in the face.”

The victim was a father of five who sold goats and other animals for a living. His oldest son was 12.

“Nobody knows what’s going on, they stopped the flow of information,” said Said Abu Sanad, the father-in-law of the victim. Sanad said when he broke the news of his son-in-law’s death to his wife, she collapsed. When he went to call an ambulance, he was injured by a shock grenade from the police, which broke two of his ribs.

 “There’s going to be a huge mess in Silwan, something big will happen. They killed a man, what should I do, be quiet? What about his family, his little kids?” asked another neighbor of the victim, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of police reprisal.

“This was a calculated, violent act with political goals,” Dimitri Diliani, the head of Fatah’s Social Development Committee, told the Jerusalem Post as he was standing with mourners outside the family’s house. “We view it as a right-wing Israeli effort to undermine the peace process and to draw Palestinians into violent action so that the right-wing government will be provided with a window of opportunity to escape into national pressure regarding illegal settlement activities.”

Hundreds of men gathered outside the victim’s house waiting for the body to be delivered. When the convoy of cars carrying his body arrived around 1:00, the crowd swelled to more than a thousand to accompany the body to the Mount of Olives cemetery.

The last time major riots erupted in Silwan was an eight-day period in June, immediately after mayor Nir Barkat’s Gan HaMelech/Al-Bustan plan was approved by the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee. The plan calls for an archeology park to be established in the Al-Bustan neighborhood, and the municipality wants to retroactively approve 66 buildings which lack permits, and destroy 22 buildings. The initial approval of the plan was one in a series of many steps in the approval process, and has been met with widespread condemnation from the international community. The June riots injured ten security guards and dozens of residents.

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report


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