Calm restored to J'lem's Old City

15-20 Muslim youths arrested as police attacked near Temple Mount compound.

February 15, 2007 23:27
2 minute read.
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Calm was restored to the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday after prayer services on the Temple Mount drew to a close. Some 15-20 Muslim youths were arrested in sporadic acts of violence as police attempted to forestall hostilities at this week's Friday prayers but overall, police were pleased with the relative quiet around the Old City. One Muslim youth was arrested after allegedly attacking police by Damascus Gate and moments later, two more were arrested at the Huta Gate entrance to the Temple Mount after they allegedly attacked police officers and tried to force their way into the holy site. Two others were arrested - one by the Lions Gate and the other at the Cotton Merchants Gate to the Temple Mount - after trying to enter the holy site by force and attacking police officers in the process, police said. After police identified middle-aged stone-throwers at the Temple Mount during last week's disturbances, entrance to the mount was restricted to Israeli Muslims - males over the age of 50, and women over 40. Israel Police Inspector-General Moshe Karadi, Police chief of operations Berti Ohayin and Jerusalem Police Chief Cmdr. Ilan Franco were all on site at the Western Wall Plaza to oversee the police operation. Karadi told reporters that he was present at the site so that "unlike last week the prayer services will be carried out while maintaining public order." "In order to prevent disturbances police have increased their presence in the area," he continued. The inspector general refused to comment on the findings of the Zeiler Commission saying he could not comment before the publication of the report.

  • Zeiler report likely to prompt resignations Meanwhile, another Muslim youth was arrested after causing a disturbance near the Israel Police chief and, while prayer services were drawing to a close on the Mount, five more Arab youths were arrested on suspicion of throwing rocks at police stationed on Nablus Road. No one was wounded. Also, in the Arab neighborhood of Ras el-Amud in east Jerusalem, police were confronted with what they described as a hail of rocks near a local mosque. Police dispersed the crowd using stun grenades. No casualties were reported. Simultaneously, a fistfight broke out between a group of Arabs and Jews on Hagai Street. Police forcibly separated the groups and detained two people involved for questioning. Despite the sporadic acts of violence around the Old City, prayer services on the Temple Mount itself ended without incident and the Western Wall Plaza was largely quiet with handfuls of tourists taking photographs of the masses of police in riot gear. Approximately 3,000 police officers were on hand in east Jerusalem and the Old City and some 5,000 worshippers attended the prayer services on the Mount. Karadi said that "in contrast to last week, prayers finished quietly and peacefully." "Police, and especially the Jerusalem District Police worked hard so that they could ensure freedom of worship," added Karadi. Franco expressed satisfaction that prayers ended with "no exceptional incident on the Temple Mount." "Overall there were between 15 and 20 detainees and the Temple Mount is returning to order," he said. Franco went on to say that there would be a situation assessment later that afternoon to reassess the continued conditions and restrictions for the Temple Mount "in light of today's quiet" and that a decision would soon be made regarding the police operations for the upcoming weeks.

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