Minor clashes follow e. J'lem prayers

Policeman lightly hurt as security forces pelted with stones; Molotov cocktails hurled at police station

shuafat gaza protest 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
shuafat gaza protest 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Despite concerns that Gaza violence would spread to east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in the Old City, Friday prayers at the site passed off relativity peacefully, with only a few minor incidents reported in the area. Police had restricted access to the Temple Mount to men over 50 and women, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had declared a general curfew on the West Bank. Following Friday prayers, a policeman was lightly wounded when security forces were pelted with stones in Ras el-Amud, and two Molotov cocktails were hurled at a police station in the east Jerusalem neighborhood. In A-Tur, stones were thrown at police forces that were accompanying a tourist bus. No one was wounded and no damage was reported. One of the suspected stone-throwers was arrested. Arab rioters also pelted security forces with stones outside Shuafat, north of the capital, and a few hundred protesters hurled stones at police and soldiers during a demonstration against the Gaza operation outside east Jerusalem's Rockefeller Museum. No one was wounded and no damage was reported. Meanwhile, near Damascus Gate in the Old City, two women were arrested on suspicion of incitement for allegedly trying to organize an illegal march to the Temple Mount. 150 Beit Safafa residents also held a protest against IDF action in Gaza. In northern Israel, some 1,000 Druse from various towns in the Golan Heights carried out a protest march in Majdal Shams against the IDF operation in Gaza. The marchers waved Syrian and Palestinian flags, and chanted anti-government slogans. Police advised Israeli motorists not to enter the Druse towns in the area. Amid Hamas threats to "ignite" the West Bank and east Jerusalem in revenge for the IAF killing one of the group's top five leaders, Sheikh Nizar Rayyan, the Israel Police had raised its level of alert in all its districts in preparation for the prayer sessions. Israel Radio reported that over 12,000 forces had been deployed nationwide as security was reinforced at the entrances to major cities, in densely populated areas and along the seam line. According to Army Radio, thousands of police forces were deployed in east Jerusalem and the Old City. Northern District Police chief Cmdr. Shimon Koren and his senior command had met Thursday evening with leaders of northern Arab communities and elucidated that while the Arabs may protest the Gaza operation, disrupting order and attacking policemen would not be tolerated. The Arab leaders had said they would help police restrain the public and keep the peace. They noted that in the past few days, life in northern Arab locales was returning to routine, thanks to the restraint police had shown. The mayors of Nazereth, Sakhnin, Reine and Deir Hanna did not attend the meeting. Concerned that clashes may erupt due to the IDF's operation in Gaza, police also ordered the cancellation of all this weekend's soccer matches between Jewish and Arab teams. The order came despite calls by Israel Football Association head Avi Luzon to let the matches go ahead as normal. In the West Bank, thousands demonstrated in the in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Palestinian police loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas barred protesters from chanting pro-Hamas slogans or waving Hamas banners. Three Hamas activists were arrested. Also on Friday, an IDF soldier thwarted a terror attack at the Tarkumia checkpoint when a Palestinian truck driver tried to stab a security guard. The IDF soldier managed to subdue the attacker. No one was wounded. AP contributed to this report.