Policeman shot in hand in J'lem

Ras el-Amud rioters lightly wound cop; 14 others hurt in unrest, 60 arrested.

March 16, 2010 20:00
Palestinian stone throwers, some of them carrying

issawiya hamas flag arab riot 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Just as east Jerusalem violence appeared to have subsided, an Israeli policeman was lightly wounded on Tuesday evening when he was shot in the hand in Ras el-Amud.

The policeman, a member of the elite Yasam unit, was evacuated to the capital’s Hadassa Mount Scopus Hospital.

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Security forces were searching for the assailant.

The attack came at the end of a day of unrest in which 60 Arab rioters were arrested and fourteen policemen were wounded.

After a morning of violent clashes, during which dozens of masked Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli police and burnt tires in various east Jerusalem neighborhoods, order was restored to the capital for a brief interlude on Tuesday afternoon, with the exception of Shuafat, where sporadic clashes were still being reported.

Sixty Palestinians were arrested on suspicion of stone-throwing and disruptions. In addition, a Jewish activist who attempted to enter the Temple Mount through the Mughrabi Gate was arrested after he attacked policemen barring his way.

In total, fourteen border policeman and security personnel were lightly wounded during Tuesday's clashes. Four were evacuated for medical attention, and the rest were treated at the scene.

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At one point, police used stun grenades to disperse dozens of Arabs who were blocking the Majlis Gate, one of the Old City entrances to the Temple Mount. The protesters, some of them chanting slogans, were pushed back into the nearby Via Dolorosa.

Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen completed a tour of the Western Wall plaza, from where he proceeded to a tour of the recently rededicated Hurva synagogue.

Speaking to reporters, Cohen said he wasn't concerned that the unrest would spread to become a "third intifada," and that by Sunday the augmented police presence in the capital would drop back to normal. Cohen also blamed the recent violence on the Arab leadership, who, according to the inspector general, were inciting their public.

Earlier Tuesday, two buses carrying Arabs from the North to Jerusalem were turned back by police, who suspected that the passengers were heeding the call to take part in unrest in the capital. One passenger was arrested after he attacked a policeman who boarded the bus.

In addition, dozens of buses carrying hundreds of Israeli Beduin from the Negev will make their way to Jerusalem every day this week, to protest what they say are Israeli threats against the Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

The protests, organized largely by the Islamic Movement in Israel, will include busloads of protesters from the Galilee as well.

Jews “have no right to the Temple Mount,” Rahat Mayor Faiz Abu Sehaba, whose Negev city of some 45,000 inhabitants is the country’s largest Beduin community, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday, citing Jewish teachings that says that Jews cannot go onto the Temple Mount before the arrival of the messiah.

Abu Sehaba, a member of the Islamic Movement in Israel’s “more moderate” southern branch, said that while busloads leave Rahat for the Aksa compound every day, this week far more would make the journey, to bring the masses to protest what they see as threats to the foundation of the mosque from Israeli archeological digs nearby.

“We feel that there is a threat to the foundations of the Aksa Mosque,” Abu Sehaba said. “It would threaten the peace of the entire Middle East if, God forbid, something were to happen to the building.”

“We don’t want this, we want peace, not a new war in the Middle East,” he said.

“Religious Jews know about the ban on going to the Temple Mount,” the Rahat mayor said.

He blamed “settlers and right-wing Jews” for heading to the site for the sake of “provocation and politics.”

In the West Bank on Monday, former Palestinian Authority prime minister Ahmed Qurei warned that if construction were to continue in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, together with the continued demolition of Arab homes there, “another intifada will break out.”

Speaking to reporters in Abu Dis, Qurei added, “If the situation remains at this level, regardless of whether we take the decision or not, [a third intifada] is coming. If Israel continues these practices, it is coming.”

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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