Israel Police Battle Arab Rioters on Har Habayis


israeli-policeStone-throwing Arab youths wounded three policemen on the Har Habayis today as Yerushalayim police, firing water cannons and stun grenades, raided the site in a bid to quell repeated bouts of rioting.

Police stormed the compound twice; the first time was in response to Arab youths who pelted officers with rocks and poured oil on them.

Later this morning, about 100 Arab youths renewed rioting at the Har Habayis, after which Border Police and regular policemen raided the site again, using stun grenades to disperse the rioters.

Police were attempting to completely clear the compound of worshippers. Officers arrested a total of 15 people during the disturbances.

During the clash, police arrested Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on Yerushalayim affairs, Hatam Abd al-Qadir, on suspicion of disorderly conduct. Police said he attacked officers and urged worshippers to hold a protest march.

Ali Abu Sheikha, a senior official from the northern faction of the Islamic movement was also arrested during the clashes.

Police said Abu Sheikha was at the Har Habayis disrupting the peace and inciting the youths.

Early this morning, police were patrolling near the Har Habayis, when the youths began to hurl stones at them. Officers subsequently stormed the compound and arrested 12 people on suspicion of disorderly conduct.

A large wall of riot police, holding glass shields, closed in on the crowd, sending many of the rioters running into the mosque for cover.

Arab youths hurled a firebomb at police during clashes at the site, but no one was wounded.

A Yerushalayim police spokesman, Shmuel Ben-Ruby said police did not enter the Al-Aqsa mosque atop the compound.

The violence came after Yerushalayim police announced yesterday that they would beef up their forces today around the Har Habayis, after Muslim leaders urged Arabs to defend Yerushalayim against “Jewish conquest.”

There have been repeated rumors among Palestinians that Jewish extremists are planning on harming the holy site. No such attempt has been made.

Earlier in the month, Police clashed sporadically with Muslim protesters in and around the compound. No one was seriously wounded, but in the past deadly violence has erupted at the site.  

 {Yair Israel/Haaretz}