Tensions in Jerusalem continue to simmer at the end of another tough seven days in the city, which on Wednesday saw its third terror attack in two weeks.
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With all eyes on possible clashes around Friday prayers, Jerusalem Police Chief Moshe Edri restricted prayers on the Temple Mount Friday to men over the age of 35. There will be no age restriction for women. This policy is significantly less restrictive than the one imposed last Friday - the week of the assassination attempt on Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick - which barred men under the age of 50. Amid the tensions, police and Border Police are maintaining an increased throughout the city.
Hamas on Thursday urged Palestinians throughout the West Bank to participate in marches at the end of afternoon prayers in order to “protect” Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque from the “Zionist siege.” Marchers are slated to depart from Ramallah, Al-Bireh, Hebron and Nablus and head toward Israeli checkpoints, which could result in clashes. Abbas’ Fatah party hasn’t issued any similar call, but the marches may draw large crowds nonetheless.
Jerusalem saw disturbances in the east and in the Old City overnight and Friday morning, the Jerusalem police spokesman said.
Overnight, police arrested in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher, who was identified as the ring-leader of a group of masked men throwing stones and setting off firecrackers at officers, the police spokesman said. Two minors were also detained.
The 40-year-old man, a Sur Baher resident, was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal, police said, adding that he is suspected of violating the terms of his release with his activities overnight. He will be brought before Jerusalem District Court for an extension of his detention Friday, and will go before the Shin Bet security services release committee, the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, on Friday morning there were clashes between youths and police in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Police said the youths threw stones and firecrackers at forces and two people, including a minor, were arrested. One police officer was lightly wounded by a stone.
In total, twelve were arrested Thursday night in disturbances in Jerusalem, the police said, with more than 200 arrested in the past two weeks.
Thursday was quiet in Jerusalem when measured against the violence of the past few weeks. Nevertheless, it didn’t pass completely without incident. A Palestinian was arrested on suspicion of attacking a guard on the light rail; Palestinians threw stones at several Israeli vehicles, causing damage but no casualties; and Palestinians stoned a Border Police unit in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Shoafat.
Earlier Thursday, police closed off the southern neighborhood of Abu Tor to vehicular traffic from neighboring Palestinian villages. It’s not yet clear how long the closure will continue. Abu Tor, a mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood that is bisected by the figurative Green Line, has become a locus of stone throwing over the past week because the terrorist who tried to kill Glick last Wednesday lived there.