Posts Tagged ‘Israelis’

Israel demolishes home of Palestinian who stabbed 3 to death

August 16, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A villager walks through the wreckage of the home of a Palestinian who killed three residents of a nearby Jewish settlement after it was demolished by the Israeli army in Kobar in the occupied West Bank on August 16, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli forces demolished the home on Wednesday of a Palestinian who fatally stabbed three Jewish residents of a nearby settlement as tensions soared last month over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound.The military confirmed the demolition in the village of Kobar in the occupied West Bank.

Residents said that army vehicles and bulldozers entered the area north of Ramallah around 3:00 am (0000 GMT) and surrounded the two-storey house, one floor of which was still under construction.

In recent weeks, Israeli authorities also arrested the father, mother and three brothers of the 19-year-old attacker, Omar al-Abed, according to villagers.

The family members are suspected of having known of Abed’s plans to carry out the attack in the nearby Israeli settlement of Neve Tsuf, also known as Halamish, and of failing to prevent it, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli army said the assailant had spoken of Al-Aqsa and of dying as a martyr in a Facebook post.

He was shot while carrying out the attack and later arrested.

The July 21 attack came with tensions high over the highly sensitive mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Violence erupted in and around the compound last month after three Arab Israelis shot dead two policemen on July 14 before being killed by security forces.

Israel responded to the July 14 deadly shootings by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site, used as a staging point for the attack.

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

Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead and the stabbings of the Israelis at the settlement was carried out at the height of the tensions.

The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors.

The Jerusalem holy site, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.

Central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the compound 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.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinian attackers, calling it a deterrent against future violence.

However, human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment, with family members forced to suffer for the acts of relatives.

Palestinian woman stabs, wounds Israeli in Jerusalem

August 12, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Israeli border police stand guard outside the flashpoint Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on June 18, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – A Palestinian woman stabbed and wounded an Israeli man near an east Jerusalem flashpoint on Saturday, before she was arrested, police said.

They said in an English-language statement that the incident occurred next to the Old City’s Damascus Gate, site of repeated past attacks.

It said that a “female Arab terrorist” stabbed the man, injuring him lightly.

The woman, a Jerusalem resident aged about 30, was arrested at the scene, police added.

The Old City is located in east Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

The July 14 killing there of two policemen by three Arab Israeli gunmen led to spiralling unrest after 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 left six Palestinians dead.

The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors but tension remains high.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has killed 293 Palestinians or Arab Israelis, 47 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Kushner to Meet With Mideast Leaders in Latest Attempt at Peace Deal

August 12, 2017

WASHINGTON — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will soon travel to the Middle East for yet another foray into trying to forge a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, one of the most difficult diplomatic assignments of the Trump administration.

Mr. Kushner, who traveled to the region in June, will be accompanied on the trip by Jason Greenblatt, a special representative for international negotiations, and Dina Powell, a deputy national security adviser. No date was announced.

The three will hold meetings with leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said a White House official. The discussions will focus on resolving the impediments to peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, but will also cover combating extremism, the official said.

That topic could take Mr. Kushner even deeper into territory generally reserved for Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. A bitter feud between Saudi Arabia and Qatar over how to combat extremism has split the Gulf Cooperation Council, putting a host of American priorities in the region at risk. Mr. Tillerson spent hours on the phone and days on the ground in the Middle East recently in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the standoff, which led Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states to slap an embargo on Qatar.

Mr. Tillerson’s efforts were repeatedly undermined by Mr. Trump, who largely sided with the Saudis. A frustrated Mr. Tillerson said he had set aside the matter, but Mr. Kushner’s wading into the issue could cause tensions in an administration already rived by internal disputes.

In most administrations, crucial diplomatic efforts are given to the secretary of state, but Mr. Trump gave the task of forging a Middle East peace deal to Mr. Kushner, who is also expected to focus on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

By talking to multiple players in the region, Mr. Kushner may be hoping to recruit Arab countries to offer outlines of a deal that would be difficult for either the Israelis or Palestinians to reject, known as the “outside-in” approach.

Mr. Kushner was criticized when he said in a talk given to interns, which was later leaked, that he did not want to focus on the region’s complex history. “We don’t want a history lesson,” Mr. Kushner said. “We’ve read enough books.”

Many in the region see their history as crucial to the dispute as well as any resolution, so critics saw the remarks as a sign of inexperience.

Among the challenges Mr. Kushner could confront on the trip are the myriad legal problems facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, which have begun to threaten his political standing.

Palestinian arrested after stabbing Israeli: police

August 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Israeli border guards stand outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 16, 2017
JERUSALEM (AFP) – A Palestinian stabbed and critically injured an Israeli in a town near Tel Aviv on Wednesday, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed the 42-year-old Israeli in a “terrorist” attack in Yavne.

The suspect was apprehended at the scene, and the victim taken to hospital with “critical” injuries, a later police statement added.

The Shin Bet security agency named the assailant as Ismail Ibrahim Abu Aram, born in 1998, and said he had no previous record of security-related offences.

Israeli soldiers later searched Abu Aram’s home in Yatta, near Hebron in the occupied West Bank, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Footage released by Israeli authorities showed the man apparently browsing in a supermarket before attacking an employee.

The man manages to fight off the attacker but is stabbed several times.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has killed more than 290 Palestinians or Arab Israelis, 44 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were shot dead in protests and clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

The violence had greatly subsided in recent months but tension around the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem saw a spike in July.

Palestinian negotiator criticises US silence on settlements — Says Israeli policies are “apartheid”

August 1, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | An Israeli border guard throws a stun grenade towards Palestinian protesters during clashes near the West Bank settlement of Beit El on July 24, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – A senior Palestinian official on Tuesday said silence in US President Donald Trump’s administration over settlement growth and its failure to support the two-state solution encouraged “apartheid” Israeli policies.

The criticism by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat came in a statement after the Palestinians had previously been careful not to antagonise the new US leader since his inauguration in January.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since 2014.

“The fact the US administration did not declare the final goal of the peace process is to achieve two states on the basis of the 1967 borders, and its silence regarding the intensification of Israeli colonial settlement activities, are interpreted by the Israeli government as an opportunity to destroy the two-state solution and replace it with one state with two systems,” Erekat said.

“That is what the Israeli government is doing on the ground through its policies,” he said, adding that such a system was tantamount to “apartheid”.

Trump’s administration, that includes his son-in-law Jared Kushner, has sought to build trust for a new round of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Erekat, who is also the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the American administration’s perceived silence was an “obstacle” to talks.

Settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are among the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied the areas in 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community, and more than 600,000 Israelis now live in settlements.

In December, the United Nations Security Council declared all such settlements to be illegal after outgoing president Barack Obama decided not to veto a resolution.

Since Trump came to power, however, Washington has remained largely quiet as Israel has announced thousands of new homes in settlements.

Trump has also moved away from decades of US support for the two-state solution — the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel — saying in February that he was happy with either a one-state or two-state solution if the parties favoured it.

US negotiators have not publicly backed an independent Palestinian state in statements after meetings with the two sides.

Analysis: Jerusalem Shrine Crisis Hardens Leaders’ Positions — “A nation led by Prophet Muhammad will not be defeated.”

July 29, 2017

AMMAN, Jordan — The latest crisis over one of the most combustible spots in the Middle East has been defused for now, but has pushed the leaders of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians into tougher positions that could trigger new confrontations. The standoff over a Jerusalem shrine holy to Muslims and Jews also signaled that the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict is shifting further from what was once seen as a territorial dispute toward a religious one.

Palestinian prayer in the east Jerusalem area of Wadi Joz, near the Temple Mount, July 28, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem)Palestinian prayer in the east Jerusalem area of Wadi Joz, near the Temple Mount, July 28, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem)

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WHAT STARTED IT?

On July 14, three Arab assailants opened fire from the walled compound at Israeli police guards, killing two. The shooting left Israeli police scrambling for ways to screen worshippers for weapons as they enter the Muslim-run site through eight gates.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a police recommendation to install metal detectors — reportedly over objections from Israel’s military and a domestic security agency.

The new measures stoked Muslim fears that Israel is trying to expand control over the site under the guise of security — a charge Israel denies. Palestinians in Jerusalem, led by senior Muslim clerics, began staging mass street prayers in protest, four Palestinians were killed in street clashes with Israeli troops and a Palestinian killed three members of an Israeli family in a West Bank settlement.

Tensions ebbed after Israel removed the metal detectors and other devices earlier this week.

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SIDELINED PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT

Mahmoud Abbas, who runs autonomous enclaves in the West Bank, was in China and his return home a week into the crisis reinforced perceptions among many Palestinians that he is out of touch. Trying to assert a leadership role, Abbas announced a suspension of security coordination with Israel until the situation at the shrine is restored to what it was before July 14.

For years, Abbas’ forces worked with Israel to foil attacks by militants in the West Bank, often acting against a shared foe, the Islamic militant Hamas. Such mutually beneficial cooperation, though unpopular among Palestinians, survived many crises and failed efforts to negotiate the terms of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.

Abbas threatened in the past to end security coordination, but never followed through. If he now restores such ties, he risks further harm to his domestic standing. If he doesn’t, Israel’s right-wing government could retaliate and threaten the survival of his Palestinian Authority.

The crisis highlighted Abbas’ fading influence in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. He also risks being cut off completely from Gaza, the territory he lost to Hamas in 2007. In recent weeks, Hamas and a former Abbas-aide-turned rival, Mohammed Dahlan, forged a Gaza power-sharing deal that would open the blockaded territory to Egypt and further weaken ties with the West Bank.

Abbas, 82, was briefly hospitalized Saturday for what his office said was a routine checkup, but it also served as a reminder of his advanced age and lack of a successor.

Nearly two weeks of civil disobedience have gripped the Palestinian territories [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

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ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER UNDER FIRE

Netanyahu was lambasted by all sides in Israel.

The center-left accused him of making hasty decisions at a volatile site — the third holiest in Islam and the most sacred on in Judaism — that has triggered major rounds of Israeli-Palestinian violence, including one involving Netanyahu in the mid-1990s.

Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalist rivals, key to the survival of his coalition, said he capitulated to Arab pressure and effectively encouraged Palestinians to push for more concessions.

Netanyahu responded with a flurry of tough statements.

He ordered the resumption of plans to build a new West Bank settlement and reportedly gave the green light to draft legislation to bring several West Bank settlements under Jerusalem’s jurisdiction. He vowed to “kick Al Jazeera out of Israel,” accusing the Qatar-based satellite station of inciting violence over the shrine crisis. And he called for the death penalty — not imposed by Israel for more than half a century — for last week’s killer of the Israeli family.

Even if it’s mostly rhetoric, Netanyahu’ statements suggest that fending off his ultra-nationalist challengers is more important to him than calming the atmosphere. As both Netanyahu and Abbas harden positions, chances of the Trump administration — itself embroiled in turmoil — being able to revive peace talks seem close to zero.

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JORDAN’S ANGRY MONARCH

King Abdullah II publicly vented his anger about what he called Netanyahu’s “provocative” behavior. Such harsh words from an Arab leader known for his measured tone were prompted by twin crises between the two countries and signaled delicate ties had taken a hit.

Abdullah, Muslim custodian of the Jerusalem shrine, was involved in trying to defuse tensions there when he faced another complication: On Sunday, a guard at the Israeli Embassy in Jordan shot dead two Jordanians after one attacked him with a screw driver.

After a phone call between the king and Netanyahu, the guard returned to Israel and Israel removed the metal detectors. The sequence of events suggested a horse trade with problematic optics for Abdullah that might have been forgotten quickly — had Netanyahu not given a hero’s welcome to the guard and inflamed long-running resentment against Israel in Jordan.

Jordan has since charged the guard with murder, demanded he be tried in Israel and issued a veiled threat — through an unidentified official quoted by Jordanian media — that Israel’s ambassador would not be allowed to return to Jordan until the guard is held accountable.

Israel and Jordan share strategic security interests, but any open cooperation at this time might not be tolerated by the Jordanian public. Abdullah already faces other threats to Jordan’s stability, including rising unemployment and spillover from regional conflicts.

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FROM LAND DISPUTE TO HOLY WAR?

Recent events made it clear that the conflict in the Holy Land is no longer just a territorial dispute that can be resolved through creative partition ideas. Such efforts ran aground a decade ago, and the absence of a solution has given a bigger role to the religious component. The showdown over shrine was increasingly being framed as a zero sum game between religions.

After Israel captured the shrine in 1967, it left the administration in Muslim hands to avoid a conflagration with the Muslim world. The arrangement held into the 1990s, when more rabbis challenged a long-standing religious ban on Jews entering the site.

Increased visits by Jews — even if Israel enforces a Jewish prayer ban at the compound — have spooked Muslims, reviving fears of purported Israeli takeover attempts.

In the past two weeks, Palestinian protesters chanted Islamic not nationalist slogans. “A nation led by Prophet Muhammad will not be defeated,” was one of the rallying cries.

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Laub, the AP bureau chief in Jordan, has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1987.

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Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank contributed reporting.

Related:

Israeli security on high alert at the Old City of Jerusalem, July 28, 2017 (Marc Israel Sellem)Israeli security on high alert at the Old City of Jerusalem, July 28, 2017 (Marc Israel Sellem)

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Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers at Temple Mount.

Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers and newly installed metal detectors at an entrance to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City July 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Inspecting a body on Friday near what Jews call the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The area, home to the complex of Al Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem’s holiest site for both faiths. This photo from just after the killing of Israelis on July 14, 2017. Credit Ammar Awad/Reuters

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The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Palestinian dies as Israel restricts al-Aqsa access

July 28, 2017

Al Jazeera

Young protester succumbs to wounds after being shot by Israeli forces, as police renew ban on men under 50 at holy site.

Nearly two weeks of civil disobedience have gripped the Palestinian territories [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

A 25-year-old protester has succumbed to his wounds, becoming the fifth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers in two weeks of violence as tension mounts over discriminatory restrictions at al-Aqsa Mosque.

Muhammad Kanan, who had been shot in the head three days earlier, died late on Thursday in a hospital in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Kanan had joined thousands of Palestinians in the streets to rally against extra security at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound, protesting in Hizma, his hometown near Jerusalem.

Israel installed metal detectors and turnstiles at the mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, after an alleged attack.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, said police forces were deployed on Friday morning in large numbers around the Old City where the al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located.

“There’s a real atmosphere of tension,” he said, explaining that Israeli forces are restricting movement from checkpoints between occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

On July 14, three Palestinian citizens of Israel carried out a shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, killing two Israeli police officers. The three assailants were also killed in during the shootout that ensued.

Palestinians viewed the restrictive measures – which have since been removed – as an encroachment of Israeli control over the holy site, and a form of collective punishment.

They feared that Israel was attempting to change the status quo of al-Aqsa, which gives Muslims religious control over the compound and Jews the right to visit, but not pray there, and launched a boycott.

Instead of praying at the mosque, they worshipped in the streets and demonstrated against the measures.

Men under 50 banned again

However, though railings, cameras and metal detectors have been taken away, Israeli police announced for the second week running that men under the age of 50 would be barred from al-Aqsa on Friday – when thousands of Muslims typically flock to the site for weekly prayers.

That announcement followed renewed clashes, with Israeli forces injuring more than 100 people by firing stun grenades, tear gas and sound bombs in the mosque’s compound.

Earlier, Palestinian religious leaders who were satisfied with the eased restrictions declared an end to the boycott, and thousands of Palestinian worshippers returned to the mosque on Thursday for the first time since July 14.

“We were barred from entering al-Aqsa,” Salim abu Hani told Al Jazeera. “We came from Beersheba to pray. We will pray in the street, there is no other way.”

Beersheba is more than 100 kilometres from Jerusalem.

“The situation has gotten worse,” said 34-year-old Abdullah abu Hani, also from Beersheba. “God willing it will become better and [the Israeli authorities] will remove the checkpoints.”

Dozens of worshippers were subject to identification checks by Israeli police.

Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian politician in Israel’s Knesset, said that Palestinians will “continue to defend al-Aqsa and Jerusalem and insist an end to the occupation”.

“If there is no occupation, there is no struggle against occupation,” he told Al Jazeera.

The compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, is in occupied East Jerusalem.

Over 12 days of protests, Israeli forces injured more than 1,000 Palestinians during clashes, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Three Palestinians were killed last Friday during “Day of Rage” protests across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

READ MORE: Israeli MK says he would ‘execute’ Palestinian attacker’s family

Later that night, a Palestinian assailant hopped the fence of Halamish, a Jewish-only settlement in the West Bank, and killed three Israelis in their home.

Raed Saleh, a resident of East Jerusalem, said that re-entering the compound on their own conditions was a victory for Palestinians.

“We never saw this kind of win for our people,” he told Al Jazeera. “People are coming from everywhere just to support us in this occasion.

“The Israeli government will now understand that Palestinians from Jerusalem will not accept everything they [Israelis] will tell them. We control ourselves. No one is controlling us.”

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from East Jerusalem, said Palestinians view the removal of the cameras and metal detectors as “a victory for the people”.

“Everyone we speak to says this is a historic moment,” she said.

Yoram Halevy, the Israeli police chief in Jerusalem, threatened Palestinians and urged them not to continue their protests on Friday.

“If they try to disrupt the order [on Friday], there will be casualties,” he said, according to Israeli media reports. “Do not try us. We know how to react vigorously.”

Additional reporting by Ibrahim Husseini in Jerusalem.

Source: Al Jazeera News

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/palestinian-dies-israel-restricts-al-aqsa-access-170728033811021.html

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Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers at Temple Mount.

Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers and newly installed metal detectors at an entrance to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City July 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Inspecting a body on Friday near what Jews call the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The area, home to the complex of Al Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem’s holiest site for both faiths. This photo from just after the killing of Israelis on July 14, 2017. Credit Ammar Awad/Reuters

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The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Arab League chief says Israel risks igniting ‘religious war’

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit (L) said of Israel “Handling holy sites lightly and with this level of arrogance seriously threatens to ignite a religious war” around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound issue

CAIRO (AFP) – The head of the Arab League warned Thursday that Israeli attempts to control highly sensitive religious sites in Jerusalem by force risk igniting a “religious war”.Israel’s actions are “playing with fire, and will only ignite a religious war and shift the core of the conflict from politics to religion,” Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said.

He was speaking at an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on the latest violence in Jerusalem.

“I invite the occupying state (Israel) to carefully learn the lessons from this crisis and the message it holds,” Abul Gheit said in a televised speech.

“Handling holy sites lightly and with this level of arrogance seriously threatens to ignite a religious war, since not one single Muslim in the world would accept the desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque,” he said.

Protests and deadly unrest have erupted in the days since Israel installed new metal detectors on July 16 outside the entrance to the desecration Haram al-Sharif  compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Palestinians view the move as an attempt by Israel to assert further control over the site, which houses the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Israeli police and Palestinians clashed Thursday as thousands of Muslim worshippers entered the compound, ending a boycott after Israel removed the new security measures installed after a July 14 attack killed two policemen.

“Challenges and dangers facing Jerusalem especially, and Palestine generally, are bigger than ever because of the increasing, illegal occupation measures implemented by the occupying force,” said Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki.

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Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers at Temple Mount.

Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers and newly installed metal detectors at an entrance to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City July 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Inspecting a body on Friday near what Jews call the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The area, home to the complex of Al Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem’s holiest site for both faiths. This photo from just after the killing of Israelis on July 14, 2017. Credit Ammar Awad/Reuters

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The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Muslims enter Jerusalem holy site for first time in two weeks

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A Palestinian Muslim performs a prayer in gratitude to God near the Dome of the Rock in the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem on July 27, 2017, as Palestinians ended an almost two-week boycott

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Palestinians ended a boycott and entered a sensitive Jerusalem holy site for the first time in two weeks Thursday after Israel removed controversial security measures there, potentially ending a crisis that sparked deadly unrest.

AFP journalists saw thousands of worshippers streaming into the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, for afternoon prayers. The site includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Some cried as they entered while others shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest).

A last-minute confrontation threatened to derail the planned end of the boycott as Israeli police were keeping one of the gates leading to the holy site closed.

The gate is where two Israeli policemen were killed on July 14, prompting the new security measures.

Police later opened the gate and Palestinians stuck to their plan to end the boycott.

A tense standoff had been underway between Israel and Muslim worshippers at the holy site despite the removal of metal detectors on Tuesday.

Newly installed railings and scaffolding where cameras were previously mounted were also cleared early Thursday, after which police said all new security measures had now been removed.

Muslims had refused to enter the compound and prayed in the streets outside after Israel installed the new security measures.

Palestinians viewed the move as Israel asserting further control.

In response to the removal of the security measures, Muslim authorities called on worshippers to return.

Israeli authorities said the metal detectors were needed because the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the compound and emerged from it to attack the officers.

Deadly unrest erupted in the days after the new measures were introduced, with clashes breaking out around the compound and in the occupied West Bank, leaving five Palestinians dead.

A Palestinian also broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank last week and stabbed four Israelis, killing three of them.

Muslims Pray Outside Holy Site Despite Israeli Concessions — Palestinians claim Israel is trying to expand its control

July 26, 2017

JERUSALEM — Muslim worshippers have once again held their morning prayers outside Jerusalem’s most contested holy site despite Israel’s removal of the metal detectors that sparked the protest.

Wednesday’s prayers came a day after Israel seemingly capitulated to the demands of protesters. But Muslim religious leaders have called for prayers to continue outside until delicate arrangements at the site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, return to what they were before Israel installed new security measures. Those measures came after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site.

Israel says the measures are necessary to prevent further attacks while Palestinians claim Israel is trying to expand its control.

Israel decided to remove the metal detectors it installed. It says it plans to install new security cameras instead.

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In peaceful protest, Muslims pray outside Temple Mount

Jerusalem Waqf says no decision made about cameras slated to replace metal detectors; meanwhile, worshipers told to avoid the site

 July 25, 2017, 4:28 pm
Muslim worshippers pray at an entrance to the Temple Mount at the Lion's Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, July 25, 2017. Muslim worshippers still refused to pray on the Temple Mount following the government's decision remove the metal detectors and instead place more security cameras on the compound. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Muslim worshippers pray at an entrance to the Temple Mount at the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 25, 2017. Muslim worshippers still refused to pray on the Temple Mount following the government’s decision remove the metal detectors and instead place more security cameras on the compound. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The head of the Jerusalem Waqf trust said Tuesday that his office would continue to tell Muslims to pray in the streets until the rollback of all new security measures enacted by Israel in the Temple Mount area.

Following noon prayers, which passed peacefully, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib al-Tamimi told the Times of Israel that no decision had been made as to whether the Waqf, which administers the Temple Mount, would accept alternative security arrangements being put in place by Israel, including “smart cameras.”

Sheikh Azzam Khatib Tamimi, director of the Jerusalem’s awqaf department, commended Jordan’s efforts to safeguard the holy city’s identity (JT photo)

Muslim worshipers have stayed away from the sacred compound since Israel installed metal detectors there last week in the wake of a July 14 terror attack carried out with guns that had been smuggled onto the Mount. Instead, they have performed mass prayer protests outside the shrine, many of which devolved into clashes with Israeli security forces.

The detectors were removed early Tuesday morning, but metal railings and scaffolding placed by the police in recent days are still in the area where the metal detectors once stood, and Muslims are staying away in protest.

Israel’s security cabinet said it would replace the metal detectors with “advanced technologies,” referring reportedly to cameras that can detect hidden objects, but said the process could take up to six months.

The entrance to the Temple Mount near Lion's Gate, on July 25, 2017, after the removal of metal detectors and security cameras. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)

The entrance to the Temple Mount near Lion’s Gate, on July 25, 2017, after the removal of metal detectors and security cameras. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)

One Waqf official as well as other Muslim worshipers in the Old City claimed Israel had already placed new cameras inside the compound. Police declined to comment on whether cameras had been installed.

The metal detectors were set up by Israel following a July 14 attack in which three Arab Israeli assailants killed two Israeli police officers just outside the Temple Mount, having smuggled their weapons onto the site beforehand and having emerged from it to carry out the attack.

For midday services on Tuesday, hundreds of Palestinians prayed in a parking lot belonging to the Waqf, just inside the Lions Gate to the Old City, meters from the Gate of the Tribes entrance to the Mount.

Muslim worshipers participate in midday prayers in a parking lot near the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, refusing to enter the Temple Mount enclosure to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside, July 25, 2017. (Dov Lieber /Times of Israel)

Muslim worshipers participate in midday prayers in a parking lot near the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, refusing to enter the Temple Mount enclosure to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside, July 25, 2017. (Dov Lieber /Times of Israel)

Speakers used for the prayer service were placed on top of a car and the roof of a metal storage unit in which several cars were parked.

The prayers ended peacefully and the worshipers dispersed.

In addition to the Lions Gate, hundreds of Muslim worshipers attended afternoon prayers in Old City alleyways leading to the Temple Mount. At least 300 worshipers blocked the Al-Takiya Ascent next to the Mount.

Muslim women, protesting Israeli security measures at the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem and refusing to enter the Temple Mount enclosure to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside, July 25, 2017. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)

Muslim women, protesting Israeli security measures at the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem and refusing to enter the Temple Mount enclosure to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside, July 25, 2017. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)

In areas outside the Old City that saw violent clashes on Friday, worshipers also prayed in the streets, prostrating themselves on prayer mats brought from home. Those prayers also ended peacefully without disturbances or clashes with police.

Some worshipers said they were not prepared to accept any new security measures by Israel, including the smart cameras.

Many of the worshipers expressed fears of the cameras.

One worshiper, Ibrahim Mahmoud, said he was concerned that the cameras “would show the naked bodies” of those who passed by them.

Another worshiper worried that the new cameras might cause cancer.

“Israel wants to control who can enter the mosque. This is not a mall, it’s a mosque,” he said.

While some said they were avoiding entering because the Waqf had yet to permit it, Mahmoud said the protests were being organized by “the Jerusalem street, who come here to pray five times a day.”

“There is no Fatah or Hamas here. Just the people,” he said.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-peaceful-protest-muslims-pray-outside-temple-mount/

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Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers at Temple Mount.

Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers and newly installed metal detectors at an entrance to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City July 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Inspecting a body on Friday near what Jews call the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The area, home to the complex of Al Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem’s holiest site for both faiths. This photo from just after the killing of Israelis on July 14, 2017. Credit Ammar Awad/Reuters

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The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.(Hadas Parush/Flash90)