Rioting Injures Three Israeli Cops on Jerusalem's Temple Mount as Tensions Rise

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Border Policemen search Palestinian men outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, June 18, 2017.
Border Policemen search Palestinian men outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, June 18, 2017.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

Clashes in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday injured three Israeli police officers and resulted in the arrest of a number of Palestinians. The rioting began after hundreds of Palestinians who had gathered in the area of Al-Aqsa Mosque began shout "Allahu akhbar" at a group of Jews visiting the Temple Mount.

Visitors to the site, which is sacred to both Judaism and Islam, were allowed to continue until the end of the regularly scheduled visiting hours, but Jewish Temple Mount activists said the police limited the number of people in every group that went up on the complex.

Tensions on the Mount have been rising during the last 10 days, which fall within the Muslim month of Ramadan. The holy month, during which observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, is considered to be a more sensitive period. The police have not yet decided whether to allow Jews to visit the Temple Mount during the rest of Ramadan, which ends this Saturday night.

Large forces of police officers were deployed in the area of the Old City's Damascus Gate, where a Border Police officer, Staff Sgt. Maj. Hadas Malka, was killed in a terrorist attack on Friday. The three assailants were shot and killed by police at the scene of the incident.

Police officers were searching Palestinian passersby near Damascus Gate and preventing any large gatherings there.

Early Sunday morning the police arrested six residents of the Old City, five of them minors, on suspicions of throwing firebombs at the homes of Jews who live in the Muslim Quarter. The police arrested the suspects in raids on their homes and they were taken in for questioning.

The police say the suspects allegedly threw rocks and firebombs and shot fireworks at the houses of Jews who live in the Old City's Muslim Quarter in an attempt to set their homes on fire and drive out their residents. No one was injured in the incidents.

The police said the investigation has been underway for a few weeks and included investigative and intelligence activities that led to the arrests of the suspects, who will be brought to court to extend their detention. The police said that they “will not allow anyone to try and harm the routine life and quiet in the Old City in particular, and in Jerusalem in general."

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