Israel police on alert after Jerusalem clashes

2014-10-24 17:17

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Jerusalem - Israel deployed police in force in Jerusalem on Friday for weekly Muslim prayers and restricted access to a flashpoint mosque, after a deadly attack by a Palestinian sent tensions soaring.

Clashes broke out for a second night after the Palestinian ploughed his car into a crowd of pedestrians on Wednesday, killing a baby and injuring six other people before he was shot dead by police.

The security presence was boosted across east Jerusalem and its Old City after the confrontations between security forces and stone throwing Palestinians, police spokesperson Luba Samri said.

Palestinian men under the age of 40 were not allowed into Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound for Friday prayers because of fears of further unrest, she said.

The compound in east Jerusalem is the scene of frequent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.

Undercover police

The plaza houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest site, and is revered by Jews as the location of the biblical Jewish temples, considered Judaism's holiest place.

Prayers concluded on Friday afternoon with minor clashes in the Wadi Joz neighbourhood north of the Old City, where Palestinians threw stones and fired flares at police, who dispersed them and arrested three demonstrators, Samri said.

An AFP correspondent said undercover police from within the crowd of Palestinians carried out the arrests.

Samri said around 8 000 people took part in prayers at Al-Aqsa, with hundreds of others in areas around the site, and that the situation was currently calm.

Overnight on Thursday, two Palestinians were arrested during clashes in the Old City in which stones, bottles and flares were thrown or fired at police, who used unspecified "riot dispersal" weapons, Samri said.

Harshest response

Violence pitting Palestinians against police has shaken annexed east Jerusalem on an almost daily basis since the murder of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists in July.

Clashes intensified during a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Police branded Wednesday's incident - in which 21-year-old Abdelrahman Shaludi from Silwan in east Jerusalem drove at high speed into a crowd of Israelis - a "terror attack".

Silwan - a densely populated Arab neighbourhood on a steep hillside just south of the Old City - has been the focus of Palestinian anger over Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned any further attacks would be met with "the harshest response".

Washington confirmed that the baby girl who was killed was a US citizen.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel  |  jerusalem

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