Abdullah: Protect J'lem holy sites

Jordan’s king slams Israeli “provocation" after police storm Temple Mt.

arabs riot temple mount 311 (photo credit: AP)
arabs riot temple mount 311
(photo credit: AP)
Jordan’s KingAbdullah on Sunday night condemned Israel’s “provocative measures inJerusalem,” after a day on which security forces stormed the TempleMount to quell Arab rioting.
Abdullah made the remark after meeting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman.
Abdullah called on the international community to take immediate steps to "protect Jerusalem’s holy sites."
Healso criticized Israel’s decision to include Hebron’s Cave of thePatriarchs and Bethlehem’s Rachel’s Tomb on its national heritage list.
Jerusalem’s Old City had erupted in violence on Sundaymorning when clashes between Arab rioters and security forces broke outon the Temple Mount and spread into the alleyways of the Muslim Quarterand the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras el-Amud.
Fourpolicemen were injured and upwards of a dozen Muslim protesters werereportedly hurt during the clashes, which were reminiscent of similarrioting that erupted in the area during Succot in October.
Accordingto police, the violence began when some 30 Arab youths who had holedthemselves up inside Al-Aksa Mosque Saturday night began throwing rocksat a group of visitors to the Temple Mount Sunday morning.
WhileWaqf officials had attempted to convince the youths to leave thecompound Saturday night, their efforts proved futile and police,acknowledging the prospect of an outbreak of violence, banned men underthe age of 50 from entering the site on Sunday.
The youths, whowere thought to be protesting a government decision to include a numberof religious landmarks – including Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem and theCave of the Patriarchs in Hebron – on a list of national “heritagesites,” fled back into the mosque after security forces stormed theTemple Mount compound, but some continued throwing rocks at policedeployed in the nearby plaza.
Palestinian sources also reportedthat the youths had flocked to Al-Aksa over the weekend at the behestof Islamic leaders, who had told their followers to be prepared for aplanned “Jewish takeover” of the site during Purim.
During theclashes, two policemen and two border police officers were lightly hurtby stones, and were treated at the scene. According to Palestiniansources, 12 people were injured from inhaling tear gas that was firedby police.
The violence also spread into the alleyways of theMuslim Quarter, where Arab youths hurled rocks at security forces nearthe Antonia Gate and Lion’s Gate.
While security forcesdispersed the youths, rocks and other debris could still be seenscattered about on the cobblestones later in the afternoon, and ahandful of young men, some of whom were carrying rock-slings, remainedcongregated in the alleyways.
Additionally, some 10 Arab youthsin the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras el-Amud hurled rocks atsecurity forces, although police reported no injuries there and quicklybrought the situation under control.
By late Sunday afternoon,police announced that all of the youths had left Al-Aksa mosque withoutfurther incident, and reported calm throughout the Old City and eastJerusalem. Nonetheless, three of the nine entrances to the Temple Mountremained closed and the age restriction on worshipers had not beenlifted.
Police said that a total of seven people had been arrested on suspicion of hurling rocks.
Accordingto a police source, had it not been for the heavy rains that soakedJerusalem all day Sunday, the rioting would have likely been worse.
“One rule of thumb is that when it’s raining, Jewish or Arab, it doesn’t matter, people stay inside,” the source said.
Inside the Muslim Quarter on Sunday, shopkeepers said that they doubtedthe current unrest would materialize into anything more serious.
“What will happen?” shopkeeper Anwar asked. “Nothing.” “Things are verydifferent now from 10 years ago,” he continued, referring to the secondintifada, which Palestinian’s labeled the “Al Aksa intifada” – tyingthe uprising to a perceived threat against the holy site.
“Arafat is dead, Hamas and Fatah have split and the PalestinianAuthority has made numerous deals with the Americans so that alarge-scale uprising won’t take place. But if the Israelis want thingsto calm down here, they should simply stay away from Al-Aksa,”Anwarcontinued.
“The only reason we’re having these problems today is because the Israelis tried to go there.”