Posts Tagged ‘al-Aqsa Mosque’

Israel charges Arabs with IS-inspired Jerusalem gun plot

September 28, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Israeli prosecutors allege that the two Arab citizens had tried unsuccessfully to travel to Syria to fight with IS and then decided to target fellow Israelis in Old Jerusalem instead

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli prosecutors charged two Arab citizens on Thursday with plotting to carry out a shooting in the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City out of loyalty to the Islamic State group.

Prosecutors alleged that the pair, who were arrested on September 6, had tried unsuccessfully to travel to Syria to fight with IS and then decided to target fellow Israelis instead, inspired by a deadly gun and knife attack in July.

Said Jabarin, 26, from the mainly Arab northern town of Umm al-Fahm, was charged with attempting to aid an enemy, possession of firearms and using a weapon for terror.

A 16-year-old from the same town, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was charged with attempting to aid an enemy and contact with a foreign agent.

Prosecutors said that Jabarin had been questioned by Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency in January over his suspected support for IS and then given a formal warning in May.

They alleged that in the following weeks Jabarin had got to know the minor, who had unsuccessfully attempted to organise their travel to Syria through an IS intermediary they identified as Abu Alhassan.

When that fell through, they decided to carry out an attack against fellow Israelis near the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in annexed east Jerusalem using two pistols in Jabarin’s possession, prosecutors alleged.

They were inspired by a July 14 attack by three Arab Israelis armed with automatic rifles and a knife who killed two police officers stationed near the compound, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.

The Shin Bet issued a statement expressing concern at the “severe security threat” posed by Israeli Arabs who support IS and are in contact with it.

“The two support the murderous ideology of the IS terror group, and their attack was supposed to take place based on that support,” the agency alleged.

It said it estimated that around 50 Israeli Arabs had travelled to Iraq or Syria to fight with IS.

A third Umm al-Fahm resident, Firas Mahajna, 24, was also arrested on suspicion of possession of firearms and support for IS, the Shin Bet said. He will be charged in court on Sunday.

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Israel says it foiled planned ISIS-inspired attack at Jerusalem holy site

September 28, 2017

Reuters

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Thursday it had thwarted a plan by two Israeli Arabs with Islamic State sympathies to mount an attack at a contested Jerusalem holy site where a July gun ambush set off a wave of violence.

The Shin Bet security service described the suspects, aged 26 and 16, as residents of the same Israeli Arab town as three gunmen who on July 14 killed two police guards at a gate to Al-Aqsa mosque compound and were then shot dead.

Israel responded to that attack by briefly installing metal detectors outside the compound, angering Palestinians who saw that as a breach of decades-old access arrangements.

Four Palestinians were killed during ensuing confrontations with Israeli security forces and a Palestinian stabbed three Israeli settlers to death.

The two suspects taken into custody this month “support the Islamic State terrorist group’s murderous ideology and the terrorist attack was meant to be carried out in expression of this”, the Shin Bet said in its statement on Thursday.

It said they had two pistols. “They planned a gun attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem similar to what transpired on July 14,” it said without elaborating.

Jews revere the site, where Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock now stand, as the location of their two ancient temples. Attempts by Jews to pray there, in violation of access arrangements, have been a source of tension with Muslims.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in a move that has never been recognized internationally.

Reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Andrew Roche

The Next Middle East War

September 8, 2017
Israel and Iran are heading for conflict over southern Syria.
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Donald Trump during a news conference with the Emir of Kuwait at the White House, September 7, 2017.

By The Editorial Board
The wall Street Journal
Sept. 7, 2017 7:22 p.m. ET

Israel launched airstrikes on a military compound in Syria on Thursday, and the bombing should alert the Trump Administration as much as the Syrians. They carry a warning about the next war in the Middle East that could draw in the U.S.

Israel doesn’t confirm or deny its military strikes, but former officials said they were aimed at a base for training and a warehouse for short- and midrange missiles. The strikes also hit a facility that the U.S. cited this year for involvement in making chemical weapons.

The larger context is the confrontation that is building between Israel and Iran as the war against Islamic State moves to a conclusion in Syria and Iraq. Iran is using Syria’s civil war, and the battle against ISIS, as cause to gain a permanent military foothold in Syria that can threaten Israel either directly or via its proxies in Syria and Lebanon.

Tehran has helped Hezbollah stockpile tens of thousands of missiles that will be launched against Israel in the next inevitable conflict. If it can also dominate southern Syria, Iran can establish a second front on the border near the Golan Heights that would further stretch Israel’s ability to defend itself.

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Israel may have to make more such strikes in Syria because Iran isn’t likely to give up on this strategic opening. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards know they have Russia’s backing in Syria, and the U.S. is signaling that it is loathe to do anything to change that once Islamic State is routed from Raqqa.

“As far as Syria is concerned, we have very little to do with Syria other than killing ISIS,” President Trump said Thursday at a White House press conference with the emir of Kuwait. “What we do is we kill ISIS. And we have succeeded in that respect. We have done better in eight months of my Presidency than the previous eight years against ISIS.”

Great, but the problem is that the end of ISIS won’t bring stability to Syria, and American interests in the Middle East don’t end with ISIS. The danger of a proxy war or even a direct war between Iran and Israel is growing, and it will increase as Iran’s presence builds in Syria. Mr. Trump may not like it, but he needs a strategy for post-ISIS Syria that contains Iran if he doesn’t want the U.S. to be pulled back into another Middle East war.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-next-middle-east-war-1504826567

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Fatemeh Bahrami | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A Iranian woman walks past a wall painting in the shape of Iranian flag in Tehran, Iran on the first anniversary of nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on January 16, 2017.
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Iran has boasted about its ballistic missiles, many of which are on mobile launchers

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© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP/File / by Ali Choukeir | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on July 30, 2017 shows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) receiving prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Jeddah

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Palestinians vie with Israel over Muslim pilgrims to Jerusalem — Part of Holy Land’s religious tourism

August 31, 2017

By Ali Sawafta and Dan Williams

Israeli MP prays at the Temple Mount

August 29, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Stephen Weizman | Far right Israeli rabbi and parliament member Yehuda Glick walks barefoot, escorted by police and supporters, inside the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem’s Old City on August 29, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli lawmaker Yehuda Glick, shot in 2014 over his campaign for Jewish prayer an ultra-sensitive Jerusalem holy site, visited there on Tuesday during a one-day break in a government ban.

No incidents occurred as MP Yehuda Glick, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, toured the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Some Muslim worshippers yelled “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) as he left and he waved to them.

Jews are not allowed to publicly pray at the compound to avoid provoking tensions, but Glick admitted praying to himself as he walked the grounds in his bare feet.

He said he prayed for his wife, who he said was in a coma, as well as his family and Israel.

Asked afterwards whether such visits are provocations that risk more bloodshed, Glick told journalists “those who are responsible for terror are the terrorists and those who incite them, not the victims.”

At least one other Jewish lawmaker, Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of the far-right Jewish Home party, also visited on Tuesday morning, according to the Waqf, a Muslim religious organisation that administers the site.

Jewish lawmakers were allowed to visit in the morning while Muslim lawmakers were permitted to do so in the afternoon although they said they did not intend to do so.

Masud Ganaim, of the Joint List alliance, said allowing right-wing politicians into the compound had “the goal of provoking Arab and Muslim sentiment and inflaming the situation.”

Netanyahu instructed police in October 2015 to bar lawmakers from visiting the site in the Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque complex and the Dome of the Rock.

It was meant to help calm unrest that erupted in part over Palestinian fears that Israel was planning to assert further control over the compound.

Netanyahu has said repeatedly that he is committed to the status quo there.

Plans to allow a temporary lifting of the ban in July were put off after violence again erupted in and around the site.

Tuesday’s one-day lifting of the ban is intended as a test to see if calm can be maintained.

The site is the holiest in Judaism as the location of the two ancient Jewish temples and the third-holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

It is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Glick, a US-born rabbi, survived a 2014 assassination attempt by a Palestinian over his campaign for Jewish prayer rights at the site before he joined parliament.

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by Stephen Weizman

Israel jails five relatives of Palestinian attacker

August 28, 2017

AFP

© AFP | The Israeli army destroyed the family home of Palestinian Omar al-Abed in the West Bank village of Kobar on August 16 after he stabbed to death three residents of the Halamish Jewish settlement

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel has jailed five relatives of a Palestinian who stabbed three people to death claiming they knew about his plan and did not try to stop him, the army said Monday.

A military court ruled Sunday that the father, mother, uncle and two brothers of Omar al-Abed “knew he intended to commit a terrorist attack and did nothing to warn the security services to prevent it”.

Abed’s brothers and uncle were sentenced to eight months in prison, while his father and mother received two and one months respectively, according to court documents seen Monday by AFP.

The mother was also found guilty of inciting violence after defending his actions in Palestinian media, a military source said.

On August 16 the Israeli army destroyed the family home in the village of Kobar near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Omar al-Abed sneaked into the West Bank Jewish settlement of Halamish on July 21 during weekly Shabbat dinner and stabbed four members of the same family, killing three.

Abed was shot during the attack and later arrested.

The attack came with tensions high over the sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The army said he had spoken of defending Al-Aqsa and of dying as a martyr in a Facebook post prior to the attack.

Israel to let MPs visit flashpoint Jerusalem holy site Al-Aqsa mosque (Called the Temple Mount by Jews)

August 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men leave after praying at the Western Wall, the most holy site in Judaism, in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to ease a ban on lawmakers visiting a sensitive Jerusalem holy site rocked by violence last month, his office said Thursday.An official told AFP on condition of anonymity that members of parliament would be allowed to visit the site known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and Jews as the Temple Mount in a one-day trial next week.

“In consultation with security officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to open the Temple Mount to MPs’ visits, for one day at this stage, on Tuesday, August 29,” the member of his office said.

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“The decision was taken in light of the improvement in the security situation at the site,” he said. “Decisions on the issue will continue to be made in accordance with assessments of the security situation.”

Netanyahu instructed police in October 2015 to bar lawmakers from visiting the site in the Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque complex and the Dome of the Rock.

It was meant to help calm unrest that erupted in part over Palestinian fears that Israel was planning to assert further control over the compound.

Netanyahu has said repeatedly that he is committed to the status quo there.

The site is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam, and it is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jews are allowed to visit the compound but not pray there, and the site has been the scene of regular confrontation over any attempt to flout the rule.

Yehuda Glick, a lawmaker from Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party, had in March petitioned Israel’s supreme court against the ban on members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, visiting the hilltop site.

On July 4, the justice ministry said Knesset members would be allowed access for a “pilot number of days” starting on July 23.

But on July 14, three Israeli Arabs emerged from the mosque compound with automatic weapons and shot dead two policemen nearby before being shot dead by other officers.

Israel responded by installing metal detectors and other security equipment at the entrance but that triggered protests which left seven Palestinians dead.

Also, as the unrest raged, a Palestinian broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and stabbed four Israelis, killing three.

The crisis ended when Israel removed the Al-Aqsa security devices.

Turkey, Jordan call for ‘serious’ Mideast peace talks — “Unilateral Israeli action threatening the identity of east Jerusalem.”

August 21, 2017

AFP

© Jordanian Royal Palace/AFP | Jordan’s King Abdullah II (R) greets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the royal palace in Amman
AMMAN (AFP) – Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Monday for new “serious and effective” peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the royal palace said.Meeting in Amman, they urged “the resumption of serious and effective negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel to end the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution to assure an independent Palestinian state with June 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as capital”.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since the failure of US mediation in the spring of 2014.

“New peace negotiations must take place according to a precise timetable and be based on international resolutions,” Erdogan and Abdullah said.

They also expressed their “unequivocal rejection of any attempt to change the legal and historical situation in the Al-Aqsa mosque and any unilateral Israeli action threatening the identity of east Jerusalem”.

Jordan, the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, is custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

The sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the eastern sector’s Old City — which Jews call the Temple Mount — was the focus last month of a tense standoff after Israel introduced new security measures following an attack that killed two policemen.

Jordan’s king said earlier this month that a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was becoming more and more difficult.

In January, US President Donald Trump came to power promising to push Israelis and Palestinians towards a peace deal, raising brief hopes among Palestinians that his unconventional approach could achieve results.

But Palestinians have become increasingly frustrated by what they see as his negotiating team’s one-sided approach.

Abdullah and Erdogan on Monday also underlined the importance of a political solution to end the war in Syria.

All diplomatic efforts to end to the conflict that has caused more than 330,000 deaths and displaced millions since 2011 have failed.

However, the two leaders welcomed an agreement that followed trilateral talks between Jordan, the United States and Russia that resulted in a truce in three regions of southern Syria.

Israel arrests Islamic cleric for ‘incitement’

August 15, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Jordanian Islamists carry a portrait of Arab-Israeli cleric Raed Salah during a protest in Amman on July 21, 2017 against new Israeli security measures, since removed, at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqa mosque compound

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli police arrested a firebrand Islamic cleric on Tuesday who has been repeatedly accused of inciting violence over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site where tensions again flared last month.

Raed Salah, released from prison in January after serving a nine-month sentence, is accused of inciting violence and terrorism as well as support for and participation in an illegal organisation, police said.

His group, the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was outlawed in 2015 after it was accused of inciting violence linked to  Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Police said in Tuesday’s statement that Salah, an Arab Israeli, is accused of having publicly supported violent acts against the country on several occasions following the ban on his organisation.

It was not clear whether the accusations were linked to last month’s deadly unrest surrounding the holy site, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.

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Violence erupted in and around the compound after three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli policemen on July 14.

Israel responded by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the complex, used as a staging point for the attack.

For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and staged mass prayers in surrounding streets.

Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead, while three Israelis were fatally stabbed by a Palestinian assailant.

The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors.

Salah served a nine-month prison term after being convicted of fomenting violent protests over the holy site.

He was convicted of having incited violence in a 2007 speech. He was convicted in 2014 and his appeals were later denied.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement following Salah’s Tuesday arrest that he hoped “this time justice will be done and he will be sent behind bars for a long time.”

The compound, central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.

It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Palestinians fear Israel will gradually seek to assert further control over it, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to the status quo.

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Israel MP holds ‘protest’ office outside Jerusalem al-Aqsa Mosque

August 14, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Jonah Mandel | Israeli rabbi and right-wing MP Yehuda Glick sets up a make-shift office outside a flashpoint Jerusalem site holy to Muslims and Jews on August 14, 2017 to protest a ban on lawmakers from entering it

JERUSALEM (AFP) – A rabbi and lawmaker from Israel’s ruling party held office hours Monday outside a sensitive Jerusalem holy site to protest a government ban on visits by MPs and ministers.

Yehuda Glick, who was shot in 2014 over his campaign for Jewish prayer rights at the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount, said it was a one-day action.

“I’m here to protest the fact that the prime minister won’t enable police to allow us to enter the Temple Mount,” Glick told AFP.

“I suffer every day I can’t enter the Temple Mount,” he said, as he held court at one of the gates to the compound alongside a number of bodyguards.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had in October 2015 imposed the ban on visits by MPs and ministers to the flashpoint religious site in an effort to restore calm after an outbreak of violence.

The unrest was fuelled in part by fears among Palestinians that Israel was planning to assert further control over the compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

The site, which includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam, and it is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Glick had in March petitioned the supreme court against Netanyahu’s ban.

The government decided in response to allow lawmakers to visit the compound for a “pilot number of days” in July, but an outbreak of violence there put off the plan.

– ‘We don’t want to harm Muslims’ –

Glick, a US-born rabbi, survived a 2014 assassination attempt by a Palestinian over his campaign for Jewish prayer rights at the site before he joined parliament as a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Violence erupted in and around the site after three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli policemen on July 14.

Israel responded by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, used as a staging point for the attack.

For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and staged mass prayers in surrounding streets.

Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead, while three Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian assailant.

The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors.

Jews are allowed to visit the compound but not pray there, and the site has been the scene of regular confrontation when they try to flout the rule.

Glick described the site as “the essence of my life.”

“There’s no reason in the world to think that my entering the Temple Mount will stir trouble,” he said.

“The Jewish god is inclusive… he wants to see the prayer of Muslims and Jews and Christians and Indonesians and Mexicans,” Glick said.

“We don’t want to harm the Muslims, on the contrary… when I see a Muslim praying at the Temple Mount it fills my heart with great joy. It shows me the fulfullment of the prophecies of our prophets.”

by Jonah Mandel