Police officers run in front of the Dome of the Rock during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinians. [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As police prepared Friday for possible violent disturbances in Jerusalem," a senior security official estimated that rioting in the capital could continue for several more weeks, if not months.
The security official told Channel 10 that defense establishment estimates do not believe there is an order on high or an organized hierarchy behind recent disturbances in east Jerusalem.
While relative quiet reigned as the Temple Mount compound was reopened and Muslim worshipers engaged in Friday morning prayers a day after the holy site was closed to all visitors, security forces remained on high alert.
Following calls by Fatah to hold a “day of rage” in Jerusalem and the West Bank, entrance to the site was limited to men over the age of 50, while women of all ages were permitted access.
Police said security was bolstered in the capital with an increased police presence in the Old City to prevent possible violence.
The Temple Mount was shut down to Jewish and Muslim visitors as a security precaution Thursday after an attempt was made on the life of right-wing activist Yehuda Glick and security authorities killed the Palestinian suspected of carrying out the attack. It was the first time the Temple Mount has been closed to visitors since 2000, when the Wakf closed the site in protest after Ariel Sharon’s visit.
“A strategic decision was made to close it in order to prevent any incidents or disturbances from taking place there,” said Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld of the contested holy site. “After security assessments were made Thursday afternoon, the decision was made to reopen the Temple Mount Friday morning.”
However, amid ongoing rioting in east Jerusalem and chronic rioting known to take place on the Temple Mount itself after Friday prayers, Rosenfeld noted that strict age restriction will be enforced, barring any men under 50, from entering. Women of all ages will be given passage, he said.
Throughout the day Thursday, security forces faced crowds of rock throwers in east Jerusalem neighborhoods. On Thursday night, incidents of rock throwing were reported in French Hill, Pisgat Ze’ev and Armon Hanatziv, where a woman was lightly wounded after being hit by a rock thrown at the bus she was traveling on.
Rosenfeld said numerous disturbances were reported in southeastern Jerusalem’s Abu Tor, where convicted terrorist Moataz Hejazi, 32, an Islamic Jihad member allegedly responsible for the shooting of Glick, was killed during a shootout with police outside his home during the early morning hours.
Additionally, an Arab man was arrested in the Arab Quarter of the Old City Thursday afternoon after launching fireworks at police officers patrolling the area, Rosenfeld said. No injuries were reported.
“Police have added a wide range of units and are continuing to implement security measures in Jerusalem, which will continue for as long as it takes for the situation on the ground to gradually become less tense,” he said.
In a leaflet issued in Ramallah, Fatah called on Palestinians to express their opposition to “Israeli assaults” on the Aksa Mosque.
Fatah also denounced the Israeli move as a “declaration of a religious war” on the Palestinians and all Arabs and Muslims. The leaflet urged Palestinians to defend the Aksa Mosque “regardless of the sacrifices and to prevent the occupation forces from carrying out their plans to Judaize Jerusalem and our holy symbols.”
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino said police have no intention for the closure to become permanent, and that the decision to close it on Thursday was an extraordinary decision made following a very exceptional event.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Thursday called on Palestinians to step up their “resistance” against Israel following the assassination attempt on the life of Yehudah Glick and the temporary closure of the Temple Mount.
Hamas called for a “day of mobilization” on Friday in protest against the closure of the Temple Mount.
It also called on Palestinians to avenge the killing of Hejazi and other Palestinians killed by the IDF and police.
The movement called for demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday.