Canadian tour bus stoned in Jerusalem
Disturbances continue as Palestinians and police clash east of the Old City.
By JPOST.COM STAFF, JOSHUA BRANNON, , AP
February 10, 2007 03:56
3 minute read.
Temple mount work 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
19 Palestinians - mostly teenagers - were arrested on Saturday after they threw rocks at Israeli police and attacked a Canadian tourist bus in a new wave of protests against ongoing Israeli construction near the Temple Mount compound.
The violence came a day after police stormed the disputed compound in Jerusalem's Old City, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse Muslims, who rioted after Friday prayers. Protests against the construction have spread throughout the Muslim world, where demonstrators accused Israel of plotting to harm Islamic shrines.
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Earlier, Palestinian teenagers set large garbage containers on fire in the streets of east Jerusalem just outside the Old City and threw rocks at police gathered nearby. Some of the rocks smashed the windows of cars parked on the side of the road. They also lit an Israeli flag on fire.
The police, some on horseback and others in riot gear, responded by firing tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Angry Palestinians also pelted a bus carrying vacationing Canadians on a tour of the Mount of Olives holy site in east Jerusalem.
"We were just driving and all of a sudden a bunch of kids started picking up rocks and whatever they could get their hands on and started throwing it at the bus," said tourist Dave Wood. "This is our first day in the Holy City and it was quite disturbing to say the least."
A police station in east Jerusalem was also stoned, said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby. No one was injured in the incidents Saturday, he said.
"We expect during today there will be some more (protests)," Ben Ruby said.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter told Israel Radio on Saturday that Israel would disprove the Arab propaganda that seeks to convince the world that the al-Aksa Mosque is in danger because of renovations being done outside the Mughrabi Gate into the Temple Mount compound.
Dichter said police entered the compound on Friday in order to prevent rocks from being thrown into the Western Wall Jewish prayer area below, something he said was "crossing a red line" and would not be tolerated.
On Friday, Jordan's King Abdullah II joined leaders in Egypt and Indonesia in condemning what he called Israel's "violations" against protestors at Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound, and he warned such practices would only enhance violence and place "obstacles" in the path of peace.
"Jordan will push ahead with Arab and Islamic contacts as well as on the international level to ensure that Israel halts such deeds, which only lead to the expansion of the violence cycle and places obstacles versus efforts aimed at re-launching the peace process," Abdullah told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in a telephone conversation, a royal court statement said.
"The King expressed concerns over the dangerous Israeli escalation against the Islamic holy places and rejected all pretexts cited by Israel as a cover-up for its violations of al-Aksa Mosque," it added.
Abdullah's comments came after violent scenes on Jerusalem's Temple Mount left the holy site on Friday afternoon were broadcast around the world.
Fifteen policemen were wounded in clashes with Muslim rioters who bombarded police with Molotov cocktails, rocks and glass bottles on and around the Mount, while the Western Wall was evacuated to ensure the safety of Jewish worshippers. Nine policemen required additional treatment in hospitals.
Some 200 policemen had entered the Temple Mount compound immediately after afternoon prayers to try to quell the violence, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Contrary to allegations made by Muslims after the hour and half of clashes, Rosenfeld said police only reacted after - and not during - the prayers, prayers he said were accompanied by sermons that in part incited the violence.
Rosenfeld claimed that police only used batons and stun-grenades to disperse the protesters and he denied rubber bullets were used. Despite restrictions against the entrance of male worshippers under the age of 45, some 200 younger men entered the compound for the Friday prayers, traditionally the largest of the week.
At one point in the melee, Rosenfeld said approximately 150 youths entered the mosque and refused to come out. He said police never entered the mosque or the Golden Dome shrine during the confrontation.
After a dialogue between Jerusalem District Police and representatives of the Muslim community, including Arab Knesset members, the mosque and Temple Mount compound cleared of disturbances.
In all, 17 rioters arrests were made and 18 Arabs were reported to have been wounded in the scuffles.
Arabs protests also took place in the West Bank towns of Tulkarm and Jenin and at the Kalandiya border crossing, as well as in the Israeli-Arab town of Nazareth in northern Israel.