Islamic leader tells Haaretz: Temple Mount clashes won't end until occupation of Jerusalem does
Riots in Jerusalem continue as heads of Hamas and the Islamic Movement call protesters to the site.
An Israel Defense Forces soldier and a Border Police officer were lightly injured on Monday on the second day of clashes between police and Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem.
The soldier, a Military Police officer, was stabbed in the neck and lightly wounded near the Shuafat checkpoint. The perpetrator, a 16-year-old from the nearby village of Anata, was held for questioning. The Border Police officer was injured by stones hurled by rioters near Shuafat refugee camp, where seven demonstrators were detained. Approximately 50 protesters have been detained since the clashes began Sunday.
Despite the heightened tension in the city, tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers gathered at the Old City's Western Wall Plaza to participate in the recitation of the traditional priestly blessing performed on Sukkot and other major holidays. The ceremony proceeded without incident, but earlier in the day Palestinians hurled stones at ultra-Orthodox visitors to the Mount of Olives.
Police also dispersed around 150 Palestinians who had blocked the road next to the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem, refusing to budge.
Jerusalem District police discovered a number of wheelbarrows next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque filled with stones and cinder blocks, which officers said protesters had planned to hurl at both security forces and Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall.
The upgraded state of alert in the Old City will continue today, out of concern that the protesters will answer the call aired by the heads of Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel to arrive at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to "protect" the area, which sits atop the Temple Mount.
Jerusalem police said Monday that only Muslim worshippers over the age of 50 would be allowed entry to the mount, in an effort to prevent further disturbances.
Despite the Palestinian Authority's calls for the international community to protest Israel's "provocations" on the Temple Mount, the U.S. administration has not issued any statements of concern to the government in Jerusalem. A State Department briefing Monday did not refer to the issue either.
Senior Foreign Ministry officials, however, on Monday briefed their counterparts at the U.S. embassy in Israel about the disturbances - which they said were not Israel's doing, but "provocation" on the part of Islamic extremists.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Commissioner David Cohen toured the Temple Mount Monday during a security assessment, and announced that they would "take steps" in the coming days against Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.
Salah told Haaretz on Monday that the clashes would last as long as Israel's "occupation" of the city and Al-Aqsa Mosque continued. He said the Israeli government must understand that using force does not grant it rights to Al-Aqsa Mosque or anywhere else in East Jerusalem, and that the key to achieving calm in the area is an Israeli "withdrawal."
"No one has rights to the Al-Aqsa Mosque other than the Muslims. The mosque compound is Muslim, Palestinian and Arab, and Israel has no rights to the mosque or East Jerusalem," he said.
Salah has been prohibited from entering the Temple Mount area for several months, and has been staying at a nearby residence while following developments. The Islamic Movement leader reiterated his call for Arabs within Israel's Green Line and in Jerusalem to protest beside the mount to "protect Al-Aqsa from the infiltration of extremist Jewish elements."