Islamic nations, PA chief warn of religious war after Temple Mount riots.
By ABE SELIG, JPOST.COM STAFF, AP
The head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on Saturday slammed Israel’s actions on the Temple Mount Friday.OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu decried what he called Israel’s “abuse” of worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque. He said Israel’s actions were in violation of international law and could lead to a religious war. Ihsanoglu called on the international community to stop the “Israeli attacks” on religious sites.Approximately 20 policemen and dozens of Palestinians were wounded in the riots, the latest in a flare of violent incidents over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement incorporating the Cave of the Patriarch's in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem onto Israel's list of national heritage sites.The United Nations Security Council also expressed concern over the riots.Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement released Friday evening that Israel had crossed every red line and made prospects for peace even dimmer in clashing with Muslim worshipers.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 Muslim world.The PA president urged the US and the international community to intervene and stop tensions from escalating further.The PA president urged the US and the international community to intervene and stop tensions from escalating further.AdvertisementSyria 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 memebers 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."Eighteen policemen were lightly wounded in their attempt to restore order on the Temple Mount after Arab youths emerging from Friday prayers started hurling rocks down onto those worshiping at the Western 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 Waqf to allow older worshipers to leave the Temple Mount.Eight of the injured policemen were hospitalized in light condition. Five suspects were arrested during the riots.Ron Krumer, a spokesman for Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center, confirmed an Arab woman was 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 Waqf official, said the clash followed a mosque sermon on the issue."The Friday sermon 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.Rock-throwing then spilled over into Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter. Police deployed stun grenades, restoring calm.Throughout the afternoon, stun grenades fired by security forces could be heard exploding in the Muslim Quarter. The faces and bloodshot eyes of Arab medics, who could be seen running through the alleyways, clearly reflected the usage of tear gas. Crowds were milling around waiting for something to happen.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 Issawiya, near the French Hill.From the , 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 the West Bank city ofHebron, after Friday prayers but no serious injuries were reported. Agroup of about 100 Palestinians protested outside the holy site knownto Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimimosque.Last Sunday, Jerusalem’s Old City erupted in violence asclashes between Arab rioters and security forces broke out on theTemple Mount and spread into the alleyways of the Muslim Quarter andthe east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras el-Amud. Four policemen werewounded and upwards of a dozen Muslim protesters were reportedly hurtduring the clashes.Meanwhile on Friday afternoon, some 250Palestinians and left-wing activists clashed with security forces inviolent protests in the Ramallah area.No one was wounded in the demonstrations in the villages of Na'alin, Bil’in and Dir Nizam.
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