Archive for the ‘Jerusalem’ Category

Israel removes metal detectors from Jerusalem holy site – Irish Times

about 14 hours ago Updated: about 2 hours ago

Israel removed metal detectors from entrances to the Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalems Old City on Tuesday in favour of CCTV cameras, hoping to calm days of bloodshed, but Palestinians said the modified security measures were still unacceptable.

Israel installed the detectors at entry points to Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem after two police guards were fatally shot on July 14th, setting off the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

The spike in tensions and the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in violence on Friday and Saturday raised international alarm and prompted a session of the United Nations Security Council to consider ways of defusing the crisis.

All parties should work to reduce these tensions and we offer whatever assistance we can in helping to do this, Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council in New York. At the holy sites, its vital that both access and security be ensured. Washington has already held talks with Israel and Jordan to help resolve the crisis.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the senior Muslim cleric who oversees Al-Aqsa compound both dismissed the new Israeli measures and demanded all of them be removed.

All new Israeli measures put in place since [July 14th] must be removed so things can go back to normal in Jerusalem and we can resume our work regarding bilateral relations, Mr Abbas said at the beginning of a meeting with the Palestinian leadership.

The Waqf, the religious body that runs the Islamic sites in the Al-Aqsa compound, said worshippers would continue to stay away from the elevated, marble-and-stone plaza Islams third holiest site and pray in the streets outside.

Jews revere the compound as the place where two ancient temples once stood.

A Waqf spokesman said it was awaiting a decision of a technical committee but was demanding the situation revert to the way it was before the metal detectors were installed.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahus security cabinet of senior ministers voted to remove the metal detector gates early on Tuesday after a meeting lasting several hours.

A statement issued after the security cabinet meeting said it had decided to heed a recommendation of Israeli security bodies and replace the detectors with smart checking devices.

Municipal workers began work in some of the narrow stone-paved streets around the Aqsa compound to instal overhead metal beams that will hold closed-circuit TV cameras. Israeli media said there were plans to invest in advanced camera systems.

The cabinet statement added that it had allocated up to 100 million shekels (24 million) for the equipment and for additional policing over the next six months.

CCTV images indicated that the two Israeli police officers on guard duty were shot dead by three Israeli Arabs who had concealed weapons inside the Aqsa compound.

The dispute, like many in the Holy Land, is about much more than security devices, taking in issues of sovereignty, religious freedom, occupation and Palestinian nationalism. Muslims refer to the compound as the Noble Sanctuary while Jews call it the Temple Mount.

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said Israel stood to lose most in the dispute and echoed calls for the removal of new security systems. I have heard of Israels decision to remove the metal detectors, and I hope the rest will follow…We expect Israel to take steps for the peace of the region.

The walled Old City is part of East Jerusalem that Israel captured from Jordan in a 1967 war and later annexed, declaring the city its eternal indivisible capital in a move not recognised internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of a future state they are seeking.

But on top of the outbreak of violence mainly in the Jerusalem area, a move on Friday by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to suspend security co-ordination, plus international criticism, cranked up pressure on Israel.

Mr Netanyahu was further hampered by a fatal shooting at the Israeli embassy in Jordan on Sunday when an Israeli security guard was attacked and shot dead two Jordanians.

A crowd of Jordanians gathered at one of the funerals on Tuesday and called on their government to close the Israeli Embassy.

Jordan is the custodian of Jerusalems Muslim holy sites and King Abdullah has called on Israel to return to the pre-July 14th status quo and lift all unilateral measures taken since the attack on the policemen.

Jews and anyone else visiting the ancient Western Wall the holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray at the foot of the Aqsa compound must pass through airport-style security screening, including metal detectors.

Reuters

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Israel removes metal detectors at Jerusalem holy site – New York Post

Israel has announced that it will be removing metal detectors from entrances at a major holy site in Jerusalem which angered Muslims and led to violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus security cabinet voted to do away with the devices after two days of deliberations.

Photos taken by the Associated Press showed workers at the shrine known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif dismantling the metal detectors early Tuesday.

Security officials said the move will ultimately ensure the security of visitors and worshipers at the holy site and in Jerusalems Old City.

They added that authorities will also boost their forces in the area and add high-resolution cameras as a result.

The Security Cabinet accepted the recommendation of all of the security bodies to incorporate security measures based on advanced technologies (smart checks) and other measures instead of metal detectors, officials explained in a press release.

The metal detectors were installed earlier this month after Arab gunmen killed two police officers at the shrine. The suspects allegedly smuggled their weapons into the site sparking fears that others could do the same thing.

After the detectors were implemented, Muslims began protesting against their usage and getting into violent clashes with Israeli security forces.

Three individuals were killed last week all Palestinians during demonstrations in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

With Post wires

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Israel installs security cameras as Jerusalem tensions build …

The security cameras are in addition to metal detectors placed last week at the Lion’s Gate entrance to the site, known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims.

The metal detectors — seen by Palestinians and Arab countries as an attempt by Israel to unilaterally exert control over the holy site — triggered widespread protests across Jerusalem and the West Bank. The added installation of security cameras is liable to spark more protests.

– Israel installed security cameras near the entrance to Old City of Jerusalem holy site early Sunday morning.

– New decisions about security measures in the Old City could be made at a Sunday night Israeli security cabinet meeting.

– Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended contact, including security coordination, between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

– Four Palestinians were killed in ongoing demonstrations against Israeli security forces Friday and Saturday.

The Arab League has postponed its emergency meeting to address rising tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the organization said on its Facebook and Twitter accounts on Sunday. The meeting, originally set for Wednesday, is to be held on Thursday.

The delay was to ensure a large number of Arab foreign ministers could participate in the meeting, according to Kuwait’s news agency KUNA.

“Jerusalem is a red line that Arabs and Muslims wouldn’t allow to be crossed,” said Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit in a statement. “Israel is playing with fire and is risking sparking a crisis with the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often touted improving relations with Sunni Muslim states in the Middle East, understood to mean Saudi Arabia, though Israel has no diplomatic relations with the Saudis.

On Sunday, Pope Francis appealed for “moderation and dialogue” at his weekly address from St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. “I ask you to join me in prayer for the Lord to inspire in all sides proposals for reconciliation and peace,” he said.

At Sunday’s weekly government meeting, Netanyahu said Israel is constantly monitoring the security situation in Jerusalem and will “decide accordingly” what actions to take. A security cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday night could bring a new decision about the metal detectors and other security measures taken in the Old City of Jerusalem.

“We are conducting this calmly, determinedly and responsibly and thus we will continue to act in order to maintain security,” Netanyahu said.

President Abbas suspended all contacts between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government on Friday in protest of the metal detectors. The suspension includes the rare move of freezing security coordination, seen as a bedrock of Israeli-Palestinian relations. An Israeli military official said they are “evaluating and assessing what the declarations mean on the ground,” calling it a “complex reality.”

On Sunday, a shooting at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman left a Jordanian dead and an Israeli and a Jordanian wounded, Jordan’s Public Security Department said, according to a report by Jordan’s official Petra news agency.

The motive is unclear and there’s no evidence the incident is connected to the tensions in Jerusalem. the department said.

The department said police rushed to the scene of the incident and evacuated the three for treatment. A Jordanian was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.

Local media in Jordan, including one affiliated with the armed forces, are reporting heavy security presence around the embassy.

A significant percentage of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin and a Jordanian religious authority, the Waqf, administers the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary.

On Friday, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest the situation in Jerusalem.

Earlier in the weekend, on Friday night, three Israelis were killed in their home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish when police say a young Palestinian man breached the settlement’s security fence and stabbed them to death. Yosef Solomon, 70, and his son, Elad, and daughter, Chaya, died in the attack. Their funerals will take place Sunday evening.

Netanyahu said Israel would look to destroy the home of the attacker as soon as possible, a routine measure intended as a deterrent against future attacks.

The Israeli military arrested more than 20 Palestinians in an overnight sweep on Sunday near the site of Friday night’s attack, according to an Israeli military official. The Palestinians were suspected of preparing attacks in the immediate future or of being members of the militant group Hamas, the official said.

Meanwhile, four Palestinians have been killed in ongoing demonstrations against Israeli security forces Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the latest Palestinian killed as Yousef Kashour, 24, from the village of el-Eizaryia.

CNN’s Sarah Sirgany, Abeer Salman, Michael Schwartz, Mohammed Najib, Kareem Khadder, Roba Alhenawi, Jomana Karadsheh and Angela Dewan contributed to this report.

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Pope calls for dialogue & moderation after Jerusalem violence – Eyewitness News

Pope calls for dialogue & moderation after Jerusalem violence

Pope Francis said he was alarmed by the recent violence in Jerusalem and called for dialogue and moderation to help restore peace.

FILE: Palestinian worshippers run for cover from teargas fired by Israeli forces outside Jerusalem’s Old City in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on 21 July 2017. Picture: AFP.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis said on Sunday he was alarmed by the recent violence in Jerusalem and called for dialogue and moderation to help restore peace.

I am following with trepidation the grave tension and violence of recent days in Jerusalem. I feel the need to express a heartfelt call for moderation and dialogue, the pope told pilgrims gathered under blazing sunshine in St Peters Square.

He called for prayers in the hope that all sides would come forward with proposals for reconciliation and peace.

Three Israelis were stabbed to death in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Friday, hours after three Palestinians were killed in violence prompted by Israels installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalems walled Old City.

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WATCH: IDF soldier who neutralized Halamish attacker speaks out – The Jerusalem Post

The three Israeli victims of Friday evening’s lethal terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish were named Saturday night.

Seventy-year-old Yosef Salomon and his children Chaya, 46, and Elad, a 36-years-old and a father of five, were all murdered in the attack.

Yosef’s wife Tovah is still hospitalized after suffering grave injuries.

The three were enjoying a Friday evening meal and the whole family had gathered that night to celebrate the birth of Elad’s son who was born less than 24 hours earlier.

Their happy, calm evening was interrupted when 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist Omar al-Abdel from the nearby village of Khobar infiltrated their home and wielding a knife, began assaulting them. While the three were slain, some of the family members did manage to flee during the rampage.

The terrorist was eventually neutralized by a soldier who was in the area and heard the sounds emanating from the scene.

The soldier, who is serving in the IDF’s Oketz Unit (an elite canine special forces unit), recounted Saturday how he had rushed to the scene of the terror attack. “I was standing outside the house and I saw the terrorist from the window. I understood that I had to act cool-headedly and be professional. I fired one bullet at him, and it hurt him in the stomach and neutralized him,” he said.

“Mostly I was at the right place and at the right time,” the soldier added. “We join the family in their grief and hug them. Personally for me it’s a complicated event, I’m trying to focus on the fact that in the little that I did I prevented something that could have been a much worse event in a short amount of time.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his deep sorrow over the murders of the father and his two children on Saturday night. “This is an act of terror that was carried out by an animal of a human, incited by profound hatred. Security forces are doing the best they can in order to maintain security, and will take all the steps necessary to do so,” the premier stated.

The times of the funerals have yet to have been released.

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UN chief Antonio Guterres expresses concern over Jerusalem violence – The Indian Express

By: IANS | United Nations | Published:July 22, 2017 10:06 am United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has deeply deplored the three deaths in the clashes on Friday with the Israeli security forces. (Source: Reuters/File)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed concern over the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem, where three Palestinians were killed and 400 wounded in clashes following the Friday prayers. There has been scene of escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Old City area with protests over security measures and restriction on access to the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem.

Guterres has deeply deplored the three deaths in the clashes on Friday with the Israeli security forces, Xinhua news agency reported.He has called for these incidents to be fully investigated, Guterres spokesperson said in a statement.The Secretary General has urged the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to refrain from actions that could further escalate the situation.

In the statement, Guterres also called all political, religious and community leaders to help reduce tension. The Secretary General reiterates that the sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence, said the statement.

Anger across East Jerusalem and the West Bank boiled after Israel limited Muslim access to the holy Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalems walled Old City on Friday, allowing only women and men over 50 to enter.

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UN chief Antonio Guterres expresses concern over Jerusalem violence – The Indian Express

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Abbas freezes relations with Israel after deadly clashes over Jerusalem shrine – Los Angeles Times

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday froze ties with Israel hours after clashes with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank left three Palestinians dead and hundreds injured, in one of the worst days of unrest in years.

Three Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian in the settlement of Halamish, northwest of Ramallah, according to the Israel Defense Forces. The attacker was later shot by an off-duty soldier who was in the area and taken to the hospital in critical condition, the IDF said.

A fourth Israeli was injured in the stabbing, which occurred around 9:30, according to the army.

The violence broke out after thousands of Muslim worshippers held prayers and demonstrations around Jerusalems Old City in a standoff with Israeli police to protest new Israeli metal detectors at the entrance to a plaza holy to Jews and Muslims outside the Al Aqsa Mosque. The security move has escalated tensions in the Palestinian territories and spurred a crisis between Israel and its neighbors because it is viewed as an effort by Israel to tighten control over the religious site.

After an emergency meeting Friday evening with top aides in Ramallah, Abbas conditioned a resumption of contacts with Israel on the removal of the metal detectors.

They are a political move hiding under the cover of an imaginary security pretext that aims to control Al Aqsa Mosque and evade the peace process as well as turn the conflict from a political one to a religious conflict, Abbas said, according to a statement on the Palestinian official news agency.

In a rare sight during noon prayers, worshippers filled Salah el Din street, an East Jerusalem commercial thoroughfare just outside Herods Gate, as demonstrators chanted, Oh armies, destroy their thrones and Rattle the knife.

Despite fiery sermons and chants opposite hundreds of Israeli riot police around the Old City, the noontime prayers ended with only isolated incidents of violence. But in the hour or so after the crowds dispersed in the vicinity of the Old City, the clashes began to spread throughout East Jerusalem and to the West Bank.

Rioters hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and firecrackers, and security forces responded with tear gas and stun grenades. An Israeli police spokesman said five officers were slightly injured, and about a dozen rioters were arrested. Palestinian medics said they treated people who had been injured with rubber and live bullets.

The dead included Mohammed Sharaf, 18, and Hassan Abu Ghannam, 20, who were killed amid clashes in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras el Amud and A Tur, respectively. Mohammed Lafi was killed in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, just outside the Jerusalem border. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, nearly 400 demonstrators were injured during the Friday clashes.

Mourners carried bodies of the dead through the streets and chanted, We will continue the fight. Meanwhile, scuffles broke out at Al Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem when Israeli police arrived to search for suspects in the rioting.

In the West Bank, clashes and casualties were reported in the Qalandiya refugee camp, in Bethlehem and Hebron. In Gaza, Palestinians held demonstrations near Israeli military positions along the border.

The casualty count and the widening chaos seemed to confirm warnings through the week about the risk of a dangerous escalation from the standoff over the metal detectors and the esplanade. The site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, is a tinderbox of religious tensions, and has touched off waves of Palestinian-Israeli violence in the past.

In neighboring Jordan, thousands streamed into Amman’s downtown district to pray at the Husseini mosque and to take part in a protest that brought both Jordan’s Islamist and leftist parties together. Egypts foreign ministry called on Israel to immediately stop the violence and intensified security against the Palestinians.

The Muslim Waqf authority responsible for the Al Aqsa Mosque has encouraged believers to demonstrate opposite the metal detectors, but not to go through them. Amid pressure to defuse the tension, Israel in recent days had been holding quiet talks with Jordan, which is the official custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

Israeli media reported that security leaders were divided over what to do about the metal detectors, with the Israeli army and the Shin Bet supporting removing the equipment and the police recommending that it remain in place.

But after an emergency session hours before the prayers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Cabinet decided to keep the metal detectors.

The metal detectors are a critical tool for ensuring the security of all visitors to the mount, said Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan before the Cabinet meeting, according to the Israeli news outlet Maariv-NRG.

The police also imposed an age restriction for the first time in years, banning male worshippers under the age of 50 from participating further inflaming accusations.

Abbas, who had cut short a visit to China ahead of Friday prayers, huddled with advisors and officials. At the end of the meeting, Abbas announced that he had decided to suspend contacts on all levels implying that he had decided to suspend coordination between Palestinian security forces and the Israeli army in the West Bank as well. The cooperation is credited with keeping stability in the West Bank in recent years, but that could be upended by a freeze in security ties at a time of a wave in rioting.

Israeli officials said the attack in Halamish was carried out by a man named Omar Al Abed. The Israeli army published a picture of the blood-soaked kitchen floor in the home where the attack took place. Israeli news outlets reported that Al Abed carried out the attack during a dinner at the start of the Jewish sabbath.

Israels ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, called on the Security Council to condemn the attack.

The international community must demand that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA put an end to these heinous attacks and stop their ongoing encouragement of violence, Danon said.

The escalating crisis was touched off a week ago, after three Palestinian citizens of Israel ambushed two Israeli policemen with machine guns outside the Temple Mount and then were killed by police on the plaza. Israel closed the esplanade for two days and canceled Friday prayers for the first time in decades. When the holy site was reopened, police installed metal detectors outside two entrances to the plaza.

The violence Friday didn’t result in the worst-case scenarios that Israeli security officials feared. Israel’s army on Friday afternoon released two of five battalions put on alert a day before.

But the deaths, the high number of casualties and the breadth of the unrest increased the likelihood that violence will continue.

Jerusalem has not witnessed such sights in more than a decade, said Ofer Zalzberg, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, and much more may come.

Sights, sounds, and the people that made the first day of 2017’s Comic-Con a sight to behold.

Sights, sounds, and the people that made the first day of 2017’s Comic-Con a sight to behold.

Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova are preparing already for their August 2018 congressional primary rematch by raising and spending campaign money.

Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova are preparing already for their August 2018 congressional primary rematch by raising and spending campaign money.

Staff writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske, and Special Correspondent Nabih Bulos contributed reporting

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UPDATES:

5:45 p.m: This article was updated with new information on the victims of the stabbings and the attacker.

3:05 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who announced a freeze in contacts with Israel.

12:15 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with staff reporting.

This article was originally published at 8:00 a.m.

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The two words that explain tensions over Jerusalem’s Old City – CNN

Those words were “Terra Sancta,” or Holy Land, he told CNN in a 2000 interview.

So what is Terra Sancta? The answer varies depending on whom you ask. All three Abrahamic faiths lay claim to parts of Jerusalem’s Old City. The imposing stone walls are home to the holiest sites for Judaism and Christianity and the third most important site in Islam.

But no piece of real estate is more contentious than a hill in the city’s southeast corner. The first indication of that complexity might be the fact the compound that sits atop the hill goes by two different names. For Jews, it is known as the Temple Mount; for Muslims, it is the Noble Sanctuary.

Its religious significance dates back to the very beginning, not just of Jerusalem, but of existence, at least as far as the Bible is concerned. At the very heart of the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary is the Foundation Stone, the point at which the Old Testament holds that the world was created. It is also here that the biblical patriarch Abraham came to sacrifice his son Isaac as a test of faith.

Later, two Jewish temples would be erected on this spot. Muslims believe the Foundation Stone was also the destination for Mohammad during his Night Journey; it is from this point that Mohammad ascended to heaven. Today the stone is housed in the Dome of the Rock. The adjacent mosque — Islam’s third holiest — is called al-Aqsa, which means “the farthest” in Arabic.

Each story connected to the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary has increased the site’s significance to the Abrahamic religions, while heightening its sensitivity. Any perceived change to the holy site sends tensions in the Old City and the region soaring.

And in a region where politics and religion are often linked, the site has taken on ever greater political significance. For Palestinians — both Muslim and non-Muslim — the site, in particular the Dome of the Rock, has become the symbol of national self-determination.

For Jews, whether secular or religious, control of Jerusalem’s Old City — and with it the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary — acquired ever greater cultural and historical importance. It was seen as a fundamental step in the return of the Jewish people to their roots, put down thousands of years earlier. The final political status of Jerusalem has confounded peace negotiators for decades.

You have to go back to the Six Day War of 1967 for the last full-scale battle for “Terra Sancta”.

When the dust settled, and after Israel had seen off Egypt, Jordan and Syria, in the process occupying vast new tracts of land, it was Jerusalem’s Old City, captured from the Jordanians, that was the biggest prize of all.

In a celebration of victory during the war, Israeli soldiers raised the country’s flag over the Dome of the Rock. Within minutes, Israel’s defense minister ordered the flag removed, careful not to turn a political war into a religious struggle.

Sensitive to the potential explosiveness of the location, Israeli officials met with the Jordanian Waqf — the body that managed the site — and came to an agreement on the status quo that has existed, uneasily at times, to this day.

The agreement saw the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary remain under Israeli security control, but the Jordanian Waqf has remained the custodian, determining who is allowed to pray there. While Jews and Christians are permitted to visit, only Muslims are allowed to pray.

It has always remained a potential flashpoint. In September 2000, when then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon made a visit to the holy complex, he said it was to reassert the right of Jews to visit the site. But it was widely seen as a confrontational political act, and it helped spark an already combustible situation into a full Palestinian uprising, known as the Second Intifada. Roughly a thousand Israelis and more than three thousand Palestinians were killed until it finally subsided in 2005.

Ten years later, a round of violence that began in late 2015 saw the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem become one of the hottest flashpoints. A series of Palestinian attacks on Israeli police led to Israel shutting down the once-thriving market that was a hallmark of the historic site.

July 2017 brought yet more tension after three Arab-Israeli men killed two Israeli police officers in the Old City. The three assailants were also shot dead.

Israel closed the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary to everyone but Israeli security officials. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office tried to alleviate fears by stating, “The status quo will be preserved.”

But increasingly it seems the status quo is in the eye of the beholder. Police installed metal detectors at various entrances to the complex following the deadly shooting.

The Waqf, along with other Islamic and political organizations, has rejected the new measures as a flagrant violation, and has accused Israel of unilaterally trying to expand its control over the holy site. Israel says the move was to prevent weapons from being stashed on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary.

Since the new measures, protests have sprung up in the Old City and in the West Bank. Jordan and other Arab countries have called on Israel to remove the new security measures; the Waqf has told Muslims to pray in nearby streets and alleys instead of passing through the metal detectors.

In the meantime, Palestinian officials warn that, without heeding their calls for a return to the status quo, the security situation could quickly deteriorate as calls for additional protests mount.

CNN’s Andrew Carey contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

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Clashes in Jerusalem following noon prayer – The Jerusalem Post

Palestinians and police clashed near Lions’ Gate following the noon prayer on Friday. Muslim worshipers also protested and clashed with police forces in Salah a-Din street, Ras al-Amoud, a-Tour and Wadi Joz. At least three Palestinians were killed during the clashes.

Clashes were also reported at the Kalandia checkpoint and protests were held in Bethlehem, Tulkaram, Jericho and Hebron in the West Bank.

Police said that clashes started after the rioters started to throw stones at the security forces. Police used water cannons to disperse the rioters.

Inside the Old City, worshipers gathered after the prayer to protest. Near the Gate of the Council (Bab al-Majlis) the rioters were dispersed by stun grenades.

Some 10 people were arrested in Jerusalem, and other 17 in the West Bank, following the clashes.

People waiting to pray told The Jerusalem Post that they opposed violence, and that eventually the Israeli government would remove the metal detectors. We have patience, they said.

Prayers were held all over the Old City, mainly next to police checkpoints. Following the Wakfs call, people were trying to pray as close as possible to al-Aksa mosque, and the only Azzan (call to prayer) that was heard in the Old City came from the Temple Mount mosque.

Earlier this morning, the top police command held a special assessment meeting ahead of the prayer.

Police chief Roni Alsheich said that the police’s duty was to allow worshipers to practice their beliefs, but at the same time not to allow people to break the law.

We must remember that lasts week attack was a crossing of a red line, he said. They were trying to harm the delicate situation of the Temple Mount. But the Israel Police is here to prevent every attempt to unbalance the the order here.

Alsheich also called on Palestinian leadership to prevent further escalation of the situation. I call on Arab leadership to show responsibility and not to fan the flames, he said.

Palestinians were demonstrating against the recently installed metal detectors at the gates of Temple Mount. Top Wakf leaders dubbed the installation as a severe violation of the status quo on the Temple Mount.

The move came following last Fridays deadly attack at the compound, in which two Israeli policemen were killed.

Last night a security cabinet meeting was held to discuss this topic, and it was decided that the metal detectors would remain.

Three gates were open for Muslim worshipers as of Friday afternoon: The Gate of the Tribes (Bab al-Asbat), the Gate of the Council (Bab al-Majlis) and the Gate of Chain (Bab al-Silila).

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July 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Israel removes metal detectors from Jerusalem holy site – Irish Times

about 14 hours ago Updated: about 2 hours ago Israel removed metal detectors from entrances to the Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalems Old City on Tuesday in favour of CCTV cameras, hoping to calm days of bloodshed, but Palestinians said the modified security measures were still unacceptable. Israel installed the detectors at entry points to Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem after two police guards were fatally shot on July 14th, setting off the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years. The spike in tensions and the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in violence on Friday and Saturday raised international alarm and prompted a session of the United Nations Security Council to consider ways of defusing the crisis. All parties should work to reduce these tensions and we offer whatever assistance we can in helping to do this, Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council in New York. At the holy sites, its vital that both access and security be ensured. Washington has already held talks with Israel and Jordan to help resolve the crisis. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the senior Muslim cleric who oversees Al-Aqsa compound both dismissed the new Israeli measures and demanded all of them be removed. All new Israeli measures put in place since [July 14th] must be removed so things can go back to normal in Jerusalem and we can resume our work regarding bilateral relations, Mr Abbas said at the beginning of a meeting with the Palestinian leadership. The Waqf, the religious body that runs the Islamic sites in the Al-Aqsa compound, said worshippers would continue to stay away from the elevated, marble-and-stone plaza Islams third holiest site and pray in the streets outside. Jews revere the compound as the place where two ancient temples once stood. A Waqf spokesman said it was awaiting a decision of a technical committee but was demanding the situation revert to the way it was before the metal detectors were installed. Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahus security cabinet of senior ministers voted to remove the metal detector gates early on Tuesday after a meeting lasting several hours. A statement issued after the security cabinet meeting said it had decided to heed a recommendation of Israeli security bodies and replace the detectors with smart checking devices. Municipal workers began work in some of the narrow stone-paved streets around the Aqsa compound to instal overhead metal beams that will hold closed-circuit TV cameras. Israeli media said there were plans to invest in advanced camera systems. The cabinet statement added that it had allocated up to 100 million shekels (24 million) for the equipment and for additional policing over the next six months. CCTV images indicated that the two Israeli police officers on guard duty were shot dead by three Israeli Arabs who had concealed weapons inside the Aqsa compound. The dispute, like many in the Holy Land, is about much more than security devices, taking in issues of sovereignty, religious freedom, occupation and Palestinian nationalism. Muslims refer to the compound as the Noble Sanctuary while Jews call it the Temple Mount. Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said Israel stood to lose most in the dispute and echoed calls for the removal of new security systems. I have heard of Israels decision to remove the metal detectors, and I hope the rest will follow…We expect Israel to take steps for the peace of the region. The walled Old City is part of East Jerusalem that Israel captured from Jordan in a 1967 war and later annexed, declaring the city its eternal indivisible capital in a move not recognised internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of a future state they are seeking. But on top of the outbreak of violence mainly in the Jerusalem area, a move on Friday by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to suspend security co-ordination, plus international criticism, cranked up pressure on Israel. Mr Netanyahu was further hampered by a fatal shooting at the Israeli embassy in Jordan on Sunday when an Israeli security guard was attacked and shot dead two Jordanians. A crowd of Jordanians gathered at one of the funerals on Tuesday and called on their government to close the Israeli Embassy. Jordan is the custodian of Jerusalems Muslim holy sites and King Abdullah has called on Israel to return to the pre-July 14th status quo and lift all unilateral measures taken since the attack on the policemen. Jews and anyone else visiting the ancient Western Wall the holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray at the foot of the Aqsa compound must pass through airport-style security screening, including metal detectors. Reuters

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Israel removes metal detectors at Jerusalem holy site – New York Post

Israel has announced that it will be removing metal detectors from entrances at a major holy site in Jerusalem which angered Muslims and led to violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus security cabinet voted to do away with the devices after two days of deliberations. Photos taken by the Associated Press showed workers at the shrine known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif dismantling the metal detectors early Tuesday. Security officials said the move will ultimately ensure the security of visitors and worshipers at the holy site and in Jerusalems Old City. They added that authorities will also boost their forces in the area and add high-resolution cameras as a result. The Security Cabinet accepted the recommendation of all of the security bodies to incorporate security measures based on advanced technologies (smart checks) and other measures instead of metal detectors, officials explained in a press release. The metal detectors were installed earlier this month after Arab gunmen killed two police officers at the shrine. The suspects allegedly smuggled their weapons into the site sparking fears that others could do the same thing. After the detectors were implemented, Muslims began protesting against their usage and getting into violent clashes with Israeli security forces. Three individuals were killed last week all Palestinians during demonstrations in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. With Post wires

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Israel installs security cameras as Jerusalem tensions build …

The security cameras are in addition to metal detectors placed last week at the Lion’s Gate entrance to the site, known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. The metal detectors — seen by Palestinians and Arab countries as an attempt by Israel to unilaterally exert control over the holy site — triggered widespread protests across Jerusalem and the West Bank. The added installation of security cameras is liable to spark more protests. – Israel installed security cameras near the entrance to Old City of Jerusalem holy site early Sunday morning. – New decisions about security measures in the Old City could be made at a Sunday night Israeli security cabinet meeting. – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended contact, including security coordination, between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. – Four Palestinians were killed in ongoing demonstrations against Israeli security forces Friday and Saturday. The Arab League has postponed its emergency meeting to address rising tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the organization said on its Facebook and Twitter accounts on Sunday. The meeting, originally set for Wednesday, is to be held on Thursday. The delay was to ensure a large number of Arab foreign ministers could participate in the meeting, according to Kuwait’s news agency KUNA. “Jerusalem is a red line that Arabs and Muslims wouldn’t allow to be crossed,” said Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit in a statement. “Israel is playing with fire and is risking sparking a crisis with the Arab and Muslim worlds.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often touted improving relations with Sunni Muslim states in the Middle East, understood to mean Saudi Arabia, though Israel has no diplomatic relations with the Saudis. On Sunday, Pope Francis appealed for “moderation and dialogue” at his weekly address from St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. “I ask you to join me in prayer for the Lord to inspire in all sides proposals for reconciliation and peace,” he said. At Sunday’s weekly government meeting, Netanyahu said Israel is constantly monitoring the security situation in Jerusalem and will “decide accordingly” what actions to take. A security cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday night could bring a new decision about the metal detectors and other security measures taken in the Old City of Jerusalem. “We are conducting this calmly, determinedly and responsibly and thus we will continue to act in order to maintain security,” Netanyahu said. President Abbas suspended all contacts between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government on Friday in protest of the metal detectors. The suspension includes the rare move of freezing security coordination, seen as a bedrock of Israeli-Palestinian relations. An Israeli military official said they are “evaluating and assessing what the declarations mean on the ground,” calling it a “complex reality.” On Sunday, a shooting at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman left a Jordanian dead and an Israeli and a Jordanian wounded, Jordan’s Public Security Department said, according to a report by Jordan’s official Petra news agency. The motive is unclear and there’s no evidence the incident is connected to the tensions in Jerusalem. the department said. The department said police rushed to the scene of the incident and evacuated the three for treatment. A Jordanian was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital. Local media in Jordan, including one affiliated with the armed forces, are reporting heavy security presence around the embassy. A significant percentage of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin and a Jordanian religious authority, the Waqf, administers the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary. On Friday, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest the situation in Jerusalem. Earlier in the weekend, on Friday night, three Israelis were killed in their home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish when police say a young Palestinian man breached the settlement’s security fence and stabbed them to death. Yosef Solomon, 70, and his son, Elad, and daughter, Chaya, died in the attack. Their funerals will take place Sunday evening. Netanyahu said Israel would look to destroy the home of the attacker as soon as possible, a routine measure intended as a deterrent against future attacks. The Israeli military arrested more than 20 Palestinians in an overnight sweep on Sunday near the site of Friday night’s attack, according to an Israeli military official. The Palestinians were suspected of preparing attacks in the immediate future or of being members of the militant group Hamas, the official said. Meanwhile, four Palestinians have been killed in ongoing demonstrations against Israeli security forces Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the latest Palestinian killed as Yousef Kashour, 24, from the village of el-Eizaryia. CNN’s Sarah Sirgany, Abeer Salman, Michael Schwartz, Mohammed Najib, Kareem Khadder, Roba Alhenawi, Jomana Karadsheh and Angela Dewan contributed to this report.

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Pope calls for dialogue & moderation after Jerusalem violence – Eyewitness News

Pope calls for dialogue & moderation after Jerusalem violence Pope Francis said he was alarmed by the recent violence in Jerusalem and called for dialogue and moderation to help restore peace. FILE: Palestinian worshippers run for cover from teargas fired by Israeli forces outside Jerusalem’s Old City in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on 21 July 2017. Picture: AFP. VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis said on Sunday he was alarmed by the recent violence in Jerusalem and called for dialogue and moderation to help restore peace. I am following with trepidation the grave tension and violence of recent days in Jerusalem. I feel the need to express a heartfelt call for moderation and dialogue, the pope told pilgrims gathered under blazing sunshine in St Peters Square. He called for prayers in the hope that all sides would come forward with proposals for reconciliation and peace. Three Israelis were stabbed to death in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Friday, hours after three Palestinians were killed in violence prompted by Israels installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalems walled Old City. However, we will NOT condone the following: – Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality) – Sexism – Homophobia – Religious intolerance – Cyber bullying – Hate speech – Derogatory language – Comments inciting violence. We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section. We strive to make the EWN community a safe and welcoming space for all. EWN reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules. Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines. EWN is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

WATCH: IDF soldier who neutralized Halamish attacker speaks out – The Jerusalem Post

The three Israeli victims of Friday evening’s lethal terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Halamish were named Saturday night. Seventy-year-old Yosef Salomon and his children Chaya, 46, and Elad, a 36-years-old and a father of five, were all murdered in the attack. Yosef’s wife Tovah is still hospitalized after suffering grave injuries. The three were enjoying a Friday evening meal and the whole family had gathered that night to celebrate the birth of Elad’s son who was born less than 24 hours earlier. Their happy, calm evening was interrupted when 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist Omar al-Abdel from the nearby village of Khobar infiltrated their home and wielding a knife, began assaulting them. While the three were slain, some of the family members did manage to flee during the rampage. The terrorist was eventually neutralized by a soldier who was in the area and heard the sounds emanating from the scene. The soldier, who is serving in the IDF’s Oketz Unit (an elite canine special forces unit), recounted Saturday how he had rushed to the scene of the terror attack. “I was standing outside the house and I saw the terrorist from the window. I understood that I had to act cool-headedly and be professional. I fired one bullet at him, and it hurt him in the stomach and neutralized him,” he said. “Mostly I was at the right place and at the right time,” the soldier added. “We join the family in their grief and hug them. Personally for me it’s a complicated event, I’m trying to focus on the fact that in the little that I did I prevented something that could have been a much worse event in a short amount of time.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his deep sorrow over the murders of the father and his two children on Saturday night. “This is an act of terror that was carried out by an animal of a human, incited by profound hatred. Security forces are doing the best they can in order to maintain security, and will take all the steps necessary to do so,” the premier stated. The times of the funerals have yet to have been released. Share on facebook

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July 22, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

UN chief Antonio Guterres expresses concern over Jerusalem violence – The Indian Express

By: IANS | United Nations | Published:July 22, 2017 10:06 am United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has deeply deplored the three deaths in the clashes on Friday with the Israeli security forces. (Source: Reuters/File) UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed concern over the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem, where three Palestinians were killed and 400 wounded in clashes following the Friday prayers. There has been scene of escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Old City area with protests over security measures and restriction on access to the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Guterres has deeply deplored the three deaths in the clashes on Friday with the Israeli security forces, Xinhua news agency reported.He has called for these incidents to be fully investigated, Guterres spokesperson said in a statement.The Secretary General has urged the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to refrain from actions that could further escalate the situation. In the statement, Guterres also called all political, religious and community leaders to help reduce tension. The Secretary General reiterates that the sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence, said the statement. Anger across East Jerusalem and the West Bank boiled after Israel limited Muslim access to the holy Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalems walled Old City on Friday, allowing only women and men over 50 to enter. For all the latest World News, download Indian Express App

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July 22, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Abbas freezes relations with Israel after deadly clashes over Jerusalem shrine – Los Angeles Times

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday froze ties with Israel hours after clashes with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank left three Palestinians dead and hundreds injured, in one of the worst days of unrest in years. Three Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian in the settlement of Halamish, northwest of Ramallah, according to the Israel Defense Forces. The attacker was later shot by an off-duty soldier who was in the area and taken to the hospital in critical condition, the IDF said. A fourth Israeli was injured in the stabbing, which occurred around 9:30, according to the army. The violence broke out after thousands of Muslim worshippers held prayers and demonstrations around Jerusalems Old City in a standoff with Israeli police to protest new Israeli metal detectors at the entrance to a plaza holy to Jews and Muslims outside the Al Aqsa Mosque. The security move has escalated tensions in the Palestinian territories and spurred a crisis between Israel and its neighbors because it is viewed as an effort by Israel to tighten control over the religious site. After an emergency meeting Friday evening with top aides in Ramallah, Abbas conditioned a resumption of contacts with Israel on the removal of the metal detectors. They are a political move hiding under the cover of an imaginary security pretext that aims to control Al Aqsa Mosque and evade the peace process as well as turn the conflict from a political one to a religious conflict, Abbas said, according to a statement on the Palestinian official news agency. In a rare sight during noon prayers, worshippers filled Salah el Din street, an East Jerusalem commercial thoroughfare just outside Herods Gate, as demonstrators chanted, Oh armies, destroy their thrones and Rattle the knife. Despite fiery sermons and chants opposite hundreds of Israeli riot police around the Old City, the noontime prayers ended with only isolated incidents of violence. But in the hour or so after the crowds dispersed in the vicinity of the Old City, the clashes began to spread throughout East Jerusalem and to the West Bank. Rioters hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and firecrackers, and security forces responded with tear gas and stun grenades. An Israeli police spokesman said five officers were slightly injured, and about a dozen rioters were arrested. Palestinian medics said they treated people who had been injured with rubber and live bullets. The dead included Mohammed Sharaf, 18, and Hassan Abu Ghannam, 20, who were killed amid clashes in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras el Amud and A Tur, respectively. Mohammed Lafi was killed in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, just outside the Jerusalem border. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, nearly 400 demonstrators were injured during the Friday clashes. Mourners carried bodies of the dead through the streets and chanted, We will continue the fight. Meanwhile, scuffles broke out at Al Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem when Israeli police arrived to search for suspects in the rioting. In the West Bank, clashes and casualties were reported in the Qalandiya refugee camp, in Bethlehem and Hebron. In Gaza, Palestinians held demonstrations near Israeli military positions along the border. The casualty count and the widening chaos seemed to confirm warnings through the week about the risk of a dangerous escalation from the standoff over the metal detectors and the esplanade. The site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, is a tinderbox of religious tensions, and has touched off waves of Palestinian-Israeli violence in the past. In neighboring Jordan, thousands streamed into Amman’s downtown district to pray at the Husseini mosque and to take part in a protest that brought both Jordan’s Islamist and leftist parties together. Egypts foreign ministry called on Israel to immediately stop the violence and intensified security against the Palestinians. The Muslim Waqf authority responsible for the Al Aqsa Mosque has encouraged believers to demonstrate opposite the metal detectors, but not to go through them. Amid pressure to defuse the tension, Israel in recent days had been holding quiet talks with Jordan, which is the official custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Israeli media reported that security leaders were divided over what to do about the metal detectors, with the Israeli army and the Shin Bet supporting removing the equipment and the police recommending that it remain in place. But after an emergency session hours before the prayers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Cabinet decided to keep the metal detectors. The metal detectors are a critical tool for ensuring the security of all visitors to the mount, said Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan before the Cabinet meeting, according to the Israeli news outlet Maariv-NRG. The police also imposed an age restriction for the first time in years, banning male worshippers under the age of 50 from participating further inflaming accusations. Abbas, who had cut short a visit to China ahead of Friday prayers, huddled with advisors and officials. At the end of the meeting, Abbas announced that he had decided to suspend contacts on all levels implying that he had decided to suspend coordination between Palestinian security forces and the Israeli army in the West Bank as well. The cooperation is credited with keeping stability in the West Bank in recent years, but that could be upended by a freeze in security ties at a time of a wave in rioting. Israeli officials said the attack in Halamish was carried out by a man named Omar Al Abed. The Israeli army published a picture of the blood-soaked kitchen floor in the home where the attack took place. Israeli news outlets reported that Al Abed carried out the attack during a dinner at the start of the Jewish sabbath. Israels ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, called on the Security Council to condemn the attack. The international community must demand that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA put an end to these heinous attacks and stop their ongoing encouragement of violence, Danon said. The escalating crisis was touched off a week ago, after three Palestinian citizens of Israel ambushed two Israeli policemen with machine guns outside the Temple Mount and then were killed by police on the plaza. Israel closed the esplanade for two days and canceled Friday prayers for the first time in decades. When the holy site was reopened, police installed metal detectors outside two entrances to the plaza. The violence Friday didn’t result in the worst-case scenarios that Israeli security officials feared. Israel’s army on Friday afternoon released two of five battalions put on alert a day before. But the deaths, the high number of casualties and the breadth of the unrest increased the likelihood that violence will continue. Jerusalem has not witnessed such sights in more than a decade, said Ofer Zalzberg, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, and much more may come. Sights, sounds, and the people that made the first day of 2017’s Comic-Con a sight to behold. Sights, sounds, and the people that made the first day of 2017’s Comic-Con a sight to behold. Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova are preparing already for their August 2018 congressional primary rematch by raising and spending campaign money. Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova are preparing already for their August 2018 congressional primary rematch by raising and spending campaign money. Staff writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske, and Special Correspondent Nabih Bulos contributed reporting ALSO Saudi prince arrested after videos appear to show abuse Trump said he left his seat at G-20 dinner because the Japanese first lady spoke no English. She’s pretty fluent Quake jolts Greek and Turkish resorts, killing 2 and injuring hundreds UPDATES: 5:45 p.m: This article was updated with new information on the victims of the stabbings and the attacker. 3:05 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who announced a freeze in contacts with Israel. 12:15 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with staff reporting. This article was originally published at 8:00 a.m.

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July 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

The two words that explain tensions over Jerusalem’s Old City – CNN

Those words were “Terra Sancta,” or Holy Land, he told CNN in a 2000 interview. So what is Terra Sancta? The answer varies depending on whom you ask. All three Abrahamic faiths lay claim to parts of Jerusalem’s Old City. The imposing stone walls are home to the holiest sites for Judaism and Christianity and the third most important site in Islam. But no piece of real estate is more contentious than a hill in the city’s southeast corner. The first indication of that complexity might be the fact the compound that sits atop the hill goes by two different names. For Jews, it is known as the Temple Mount; for Muslims, it is the Noble Sanctuary. Its religious significance dates back to the very beginning, not just of Jerusalem, but of existence, at least as far as the Bible is concerned. At the very heart of the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary is the Foundation Stone, the point at which the Old Testament holds that the world was created. It is also here that the biblical patriarch Abraham came to sacrifice his son Isaac as a test of faith. Later, two Jewish temples would be erected on this spot. Muslims believe the Foundation Stone was also the destination for Mohammad during his Night Journey; it is from this point that Mohammad ascended to heaven. Today the stone is housed in the Dome of the Rock. The adjacent mosque — Islam’s third holiest — is called al-Aqsa, which means “the farthest” in Arabic. Each story connected to the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary has increased the site’s significance to the Abrahamic religions, while heightening its sensitivity. Any perceived change to the holy site sends tensions in the Old City and the region soaring. And in a region where politics and religion are often linked, the site has taken on ever greater political significance. For Palestinians — both Muslim and non-Muslim — the site, in particular the Dome of the Rock, has become the symbol of national self-determination. For Jews, whether secular or religious, control of Jerusalem’s Old City — and with it the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary — acquired ever greater cultural and historical importance. It was seen as a fundamental step in the return of the Jewish people to their roots, put down thousands of years earlier. The final political status of Jerusalem has confounded peace negotiators for decades. You have to go back to the Six Day War of 1967 for the last full-scale battle for “Terra Sancta”. When the dust settled, and after Israel had seen off Egypt, Jordan and Syria, in the process occupying vast new tracts of land, it was Jerusalem’s Old City, captured from the Jordanians, that was the biggest prize of all. In a celebration of victory during the war, Israeli soldiers raised the country’s flag over the Dome of the Rock. Within minutes, Israel’s defense minister ordered the flag removed, careful not to turn a political war into a religious struggle. Sensitive to the potential explosiveness of the location, Israeli officials met with the Jordanian Waqf — the body that managed the site — and came to an agreement on the status quo that has existed, uneasily at times, to this day. The agreement saw the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary remain under Israeli security control, but the Jordanian Waqf has remained the custodian, determining who is allowed to pray there. While Jews and Christians are permitted to visit, only Muslims are allowed to pray. It has always remained a potential flashpoint. In September 2000, when then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon made a visit to the holy complex, he said it was to reassert the right of Jews to visit the site. But it was widely seen as a confrontational political act, and it helped spark an already combustible situation into a full Palestinian uprising, known as the Second Intifada. Roughly a thousand Israelis and more than three thousand Palestinians were killed until it finally subsided in 2005. Ten years later, a round of violence that began in late 2015 saw the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem become one of the hottest flashpoints. A series of Palestinian attacks on Israeli police led to Israel shutting down the once-thriving market that was a hallmark of the historic site. July 2017 brought yet more tension after three Arab-Israeli men killed two Israeli police officers in the Old City. The three assailants were also shot dead. Israel closed the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary to everyone but Israeli security officials. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office tried to alleviate fears by stating, “The status quo will be preserved.” But increasingly it seems the status quo is in the eye of the beholder. Police installed metal detectors at various entrances to the complex following the deadly shooting. The Waqf, along with other Islamic and political organizations, has rejected the new measures as a flagrant violation, and has accused Israel of unilaterally trying to expand its control over the holy site. Israel says the move was to prevent weapons from being stashed on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary. Since the new measures, protests have sprung up in the Old City and in the West Bank. Jordan and other Arab countries have called on Israel to remove the new security measures; the Waqf has told Muslims to pray in nearby streets and alleys instead of passing through the metal detectors. In the meantime, Palestinian officials warn that, without heeding their calls for a return to the status quo, the security situation could quickly deteriorate as calls for additional protests mount. CNN’s Andrew Carey contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

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July 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Clashes in Jerusalem following noon prayer – The Jerusalem Post

Palestinians and police clashed near Lions’ Gate following the noon prayer on Friday. Muslim worshipers also protested and clashed with police forces in Salah a-Din street, Ras al-Amoud, a-Tour and Wadi Joz. At least three Palestinians were killed during the clashes. Clashes were also reported at the Kalandia checkpoint and protests were held in Bethlehem, Tulkaram, Jericho and Hebron in the West Bank. Police said that clashes started after the rioters started to throw stones at the security forces. Police used water cannons to disperse the rioters. Inside the Old City, worshipers gathered after the prayer to protest. Near the Gate of the Council (Bab al-Majlis) the rioters were dispersed by stun grenades. Some 10 people were arrested in Jerusalem, and other 17 in the West Bank, following the clashes. People waiting to pray told The Jerusalem Post that they opposed violence, and that eventually the Israeli government would remove the metal detectors. We have patience, they said. Prayers were held all over the Old City, mainly next to police checkpoints. Following the Wakfs call, people were trying to pray as close as possible to al-Aksa mosque, and the only Azzan (call to prayer) that was heard in the Old City came from the Temple Mount mosque. Earlier this morning, the top police command held a special assessment meeting ahead of the prayer. Police chief Roni Alsheich said that the police’s duty was to allow worshipers to practice their beliefs, but at the same time not to allow people to break the law. We must remember that lasts week attack was a crossing of a red line, he said. They were trying to harm the delicate situation of the Temple Mount. But the Israel Police is here to prevent every attempt to unbalance the the order here. Alsheich also called on Palestinian leadership to prevent further escalation of the situation. I call on Arab leadership to show responsibility and not to fan the flames, he said. Palestinians were demonstrating against the recently installed metal detectors at the gates of Temple Mount. Top Wakf leaders dubbed the installation as a severe violation of the status quo on the Temple Mount. The move came following last Fridays deadly attack at the compound, in which two Israeli policemen were killed. Last night a security cabinet meeting was held to discuss this topic, and it was decided that the metal detectors would remain. Three gates were open for Muslim worshipers as of Friday afternoon: The Gate of the Tribes (Bab al-Asbat), the Gate of the Council (Bab al-Majlis) and the Gate of Chain (Bab al-Silila). Share on facebook

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July 21, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed


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