12 policemen hurt in J'lem clashes

Police, rioters clash in

While Friday prayers ended without incident at the Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount, Palestinian rioters clashed with police in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya, Ras el-Amud and Sur Baher on Friday afternoon. One policeman was lightly wounded by rocks as dozens of Arab youths blocked the entrance to the northern neighborhood of Issawiya, after similar clashes came to an end in other neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city. The stone thrower was arrested. Eleven policemen were lightly wounded in the earlier riots. Seven were treated at the scene and four were evacuated to hospital. Two men suspected of throwing rocks at security forces were arrested and were to be interrogated. The unrest reached a fever pitch in Ras el-Amud, where salvos of rocks could be seen raining down on officers decked out in full riot gear. Hundreds of policemen, protected by helmets and shields, used stun grenades to try to disperse the crowds, pushing the rioters back into the alleyways of the neighborhood. At one point, women standing on a rooftop joined the rioters in the street and hurled rocks, potted plants and paint down onto police. Reporters were caught in the hail of rocks as well, as many were hit squarely with the large stones that rioters hurled towards police. One reporter was even seized momentarily by one of the rioters, who demanded that he prove he was reporter and not an undercover police officer. "Show me that you're a reporter!" the young Arab man, his face covered with a keffiyeh, screamed as he held the reporter by his shirt and threatened him with a rock he held in his hand. The reporter provided his press card, an Arab journalist intervened to explain that the man was in fact a journalist, and the reporter was let go. But when police eventually made their final push deep into Ras el-Amud to arrest two stone throwers, chaos broke out, and a man in plain clothes, reported to be an actual undercover officer, emerged from a doorway and began opening fire with a handgun. This signal, as it were, prompted a number of other undercover officers who had been in the crowd to suddenly pull face masks on as one was seen talking into a hidden radio receiver under his long-sleeve shirt. Police were again hit with a barrage of rocks and other debris as they moved out of the neighborhood with the two suspects, but after they departed from the inner alleyways of Ras el-Amud, the unrest began to die down. In Sur Baher, near Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, Palestinians also hurled rocks at security forces. No one was wounded in the clashes. Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and in refugee camps in Syria held mass demonstrations, protesting Israel's decision to restrict entry into the Aksa Mosque compound. In Jerusalem, many Muslims held prayers in their neighborhoods, as men under 50 were not permitted to enter the Temple Mount compound on Friday for security reasons. Earlier, at least 500 Palestinians held Friday prayers near a police checkpoint at the entrance to east Jerusalem's Wadi Joz neighborhood. The prayers at Wadi Joz were held under a heavy police presence, with some 100 policemen deployed in the area. After the prayers ended, worshipers stood in front of the police checkpoint chanting slogans, but dispersed peacefully soon after. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.