9 cops, reporter lightly hurt in J'lem

3 policemen lightly woun

October 25, 2009 11:40
3 minute read.

Nine police officers and a foreign reporter were lightly wounded Sunday during clashes between security forces and Arab rioters in the capital. Police were forced to enter the Temple Mount twice during the the day of fierce rioting, and were met by a hail of rocks and a firebomb. A female Australian journalist was struck in the head by a rock during the disturbances, apparently after being caught between rioters and security forces near an entrance to the Temple Mount in the Muslim Quarter. She was treated at the scene. Police said the disturbances began when officers were accompanying a group of tourists up to the mount. According to police, several Muslim youngsters were caught on video preparing to cause trouble; gathering rocks to throw and pouring oil onto the ground to hinder the access of security forces and the visitors. Following the discovery, police reinforcements stormed the mount, and were pelted with stones and a fire bomb by the young rioters. The rioters were dispersed with stun grenades and rubber bullets, and a tense calm was briefly restored to the area. Security forces ascended the mount for a second time when Arab youths began hurling rocks just as police officers were talking to the Waqf in a bid to convince some 100 Muslim youths, who had been involved in the earlier violence, to come out of the Aksa Mosque, where they had holed themselves up. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the officers had promised not to arrest them if they came out. Police didn't enter the mosque, but throughout the day those inside occasionally opened the shuttered doors to throw various objects, such as chairs, at the security forces. The youths eventually left peacefully and the compound was closed, police said on Sunday evening. Palestinian medics accused Israel of preventing ambulances from reaching the area. Two wounded protesters were seen being taken away, including an elderly man who had been shot in the leg with a rubber bullet. Early Sunday afternoon, Arab youths hurled rocks at police in the alleyways of the Muslim Quarter, also burning garbage and pieces of wood in the streets. There were also clashes in the nearby neighborhood of Ras el-Amud, where riots ended shortly after midday. In total, 18 Arab rioters were arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and violence against police officers. Among them were Ali Abu Sheikha, of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, and Khatem Abd al-Kader, holder of the Jerusalem dossier in Fatah, who was banished from the Old City earlier in October on charges of inciting riots. Although police had earlier said they were bracing for the possibility of renewed clashes, no restrictions had initially been placed on Muslims entering the Temple Mount for Sunday prayers, or on visitors who arrived in the morning to tour the compound. However, following the early morning clashes, access to the site was restricted to Muslim women, and men over 50 holding Israeli ID cards. A Muslim cleric then issued a call over the Temple Mount loudspeaker to "come and defend" the Aksa Mosque. The already high alert level in the capital had come in response to what police said were previous calls by both Jewish and Islamic religious leaders to ascend the Temple Mount. Muslim worshipers were called to Jerusalem Sunday mostly by east Jerusalem Muslim clerics and their counterparts from the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. While the police spokesman declined to specify where the Jewish calls had originated, Sunday had been publicized as the day to commemorate the visit by Maimonides to the Temple Mount 843 years ago. In the past, Jews have ascended the mount to mark the anniversary, 6 Heshvan. However, there was no Jewish presence at the site on Sunday, and Jewish prayers at the Western Wall went on undisturbed.

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