Israel worried about attack spike

2015-09-14 16:59
Israeli riot police walk at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound - one of Islam's holiest sites. (Ahmad Ghabrali, AFP)

Israeli riot police walk at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound - one of Islam's holiest sites. (Ahmad Ghabrali, AFP)

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Jerusalem - Israel's prime minister will convene an emergency meeting over recent Palestinian attacks, an official at his office said on Monday, hours after an Israeli died after rocks were thrown at his car and violence broke out at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site for a second day in a row.

Benjamin Netanyahu will consult with top ministers on Tuesday night, after the Jewish new year holiday of Rosh Hashanah ends. "The prime minister views with great severity the throwing of rocks and fire bombs against Israeli citizens and intends to fight the phenomena by all means, including increasing punishment and enforcement," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity according to regulations.

Earlier Monday, an Israeli died after attackers pelted his car with rocks in Jerusalem.

Police spokesperson Luba Samri said the man was injured as he was driving home from a meal marking the Jewish new year and later died of his injuries. She said the identity of the attackers was unknown but that they were likely from a nearby Arab neighbourhood.

Police said they are investigating and would not elaborate. Israeli media reported the driver lost control of the wheel following a heart attack, which might have been triggered by the rocks thrown at his car. Israeli officials did not confirm those reports.

There has been a spike in Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians and soldiers over the past year, which has included fatalities and casualties.

Palestinians have also been assaulted. In the deadliest incident, a Palestinian toddler was killed in an arson attack on a home in the West Bank in July. His parents later died of their wounds suffered in that attack. That attack was widely condemned across Israel's political spectrum and the government vowed to crackdown on Israeli extremists.

Earlier Monday, police and Palestinian stone-throwers clashed for a second consecutive day at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site. The compound is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the two biblical Jewish temples.

Muslims revere it as the Noble Sanctuary, where they believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The fate of the site is a core issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Samri, the police spokesperson, said protesters threw rocks at officers who entered the area to ensure security. She said several masked Palestinians suspected of stone throwing were arrested. Police also arrested protesters who attacked a Jewish man, she said.

The holy site is a frequent flashpoint. On Sunday, police clashed with Palestinians who barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and threw rocks and firecrackers. A Jewish man wearing a traditional prayer shawl was attacked as he passed through a nearby alleyway in the Old City.

Since Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Jewish worshippers have been allowed to visit - but not pray - at the site.

The area is administered by Muslim authorities and is under Jordanian custody. Muslim authorities view the presence of Jewish worshippers and Israeli police as a provocation and accuse Jewish extremists of plotting to take over the site.

Israel has promised to ensure the status quo at the site.

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