Friday’s clashes on the Temple Mount between police and Arab youths throwing rocks onto Jews worshiping at the Western Wall sparked international responses ranging from concern to anger. Eighteen policemen were lightly wounded while attempting to restore order after Arab youths emerging from Friday prayers started hurling rocks down onto those worshiping at the Wall. Having restored calm by use of stun grenades and following helpful intervention by other Muslim worshipers to defuse the clash, police eventually withdrew in coordination with the Wakf Islamic trust to allow older worshipers to leave the Mount.Eight of the injured policemen were hospitalized in light condition. Five suspects were arrested.Ron Krumer, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, confirmed that an Arab woman had been wounded in the head by a rubber bullet and hospitalized in serious condition. Palestinian medics reported 13 injuries. Police denied using rubber bullets to disperse the riot.Najeh Btirat, a Wakf official, said the clash followed a mosque sermon which “focused on the Islamic sites that are being targeted by Israel and the need to preserve them,” he said. About 300 young men threw stones at police after prayers, he said.The rock-throwing then spilled over into Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter. Police deployed stun grenades, restoring calm.The UN Security Council expressed concern over the clashes on Friday night.President of the Security Council for March, Gabon’s UN Ambassador Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, told reporters: “The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the current tense situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem. They urged all sides to show restraint and avoid provocative acts. They stressed that peaceful dialogue was the only way forward and looked forward to an early resumption of negotiations.”Israel has crossed every red line and made prospects for peace even dimmer in clashing with Muslim worshipers on the Temple Mount, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement released Friday evening.Abbas said Israeli security forces, which he termed the “occupation army,” were “provoking” members of other faiths in a way that could “set off a religious war in the region.”He warned that “Israeli escapades” in east Jerusalem would have repercussions not just in the city and the Middle East, but also in the Muslim world.The PA president urged the US and the international community to intervene and stop tensions from escalating further.Syria also condemned what it termed Israel’s “desecration of Arab and Islamic sanctities” in Jerusalem on Friday, adding its voice to those opposing indirect negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.“The desecration... comes at a time when the majority of the Arab League Council’s members adopted the indirect Palestinian-Israeli negotiations,” read a statement released by the Syrian Foreign Ministry and quoted by SANA. It further noted that the clashes serve as “extra evidence on Israel’s non-seriousness about peace... and a proof of the Israeli anti-peace policy that aims at liquidating the Palestinian cause.”Echoing Abbas’s earlier statement, Damascus called Friday’s incident a “blatant provocation to the feeling of hundreds of millions of Muslims.” The violence on the Temple Mount spread to other areas on Friday. In the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras el-Amud, some 20 Arab youths threw rocks at security forces. They were later dispersed. Clashes also broke out at the entrance to Isawiya, near French Hill.From across the valley, smoke could be seen rising up from Ras el-Amud as the young men throwing rocks at police set garbage on fire.Skirmishes also broke out to the south in Hebron after Friday prayers, but no serious injuries were reported. A group of about 100 Palestinians protested outside the holy site known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs, and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi mosque.Last Sunday, Jerusalem’s Old City erupted in violence as clashes between Arab rioters and security forces broke out on the Temple Mount and spread into the alleyways of the Muslim Quarter and the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras el-Amud. Four policemen were wounded and upwards of a dozen Muslim protesters were reportedly hurt during the clashes.The repeated clashes in Jerusalem follow Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement incorporating the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem into Israel’s list of national heritage sites.
Meanwhile on Friday afternoon, some 250 Palestinians and left-wingactivists clashed with security forces in violent protests in theRamallah area.No one was wounded in the demonstrations in the villages of Ni’lin, Bil’in and Deir Nizam.