Israeli Arabs Accuse Israel of 'Ethnic Cleansing' in Jerusalem

Umbrella group calls on Palestinians and Arabs to 'defend' Al-Aqsa mosque and East Jerusalem.

An umbrella organization for Israeli Arab groups accused Israel on Saturday of perpetrating "ethnic cleansing" in Jerusalem, in the wake of Israel's quelling of riots by Arab youths on the Temple Mount.

"Israel is carrying out ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, and the defense of Al-Aqsa and of East Jerusalem is an obligation for the whole Palestinian people, and for the Arab nation," the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee said in a statement.

The group was referring to the Al-Aqsa mosque, which sits atop the holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem.

"The occupation is the most illegitimate thing in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the struggle against it is a natural and legitimate act," the committee added.

On Sunday, Israeli police firing stun grenades faced off against masked Palestinian rioters hurling stones and plastic chairs outside the Temple Mount, where past violence has escalated into prolonged conflict.

Some of the rioters remained holed up in the mosque with police outside for several hours until dispersing before nightfall. Police arrested eighteen of them, and no serious injuries were reported.

Similar incidents of violence have erupted over the past month at the site.