Dozens of Palestinians detained in East Jerusalem following Al-Aqsa unrest

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JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians, including a journalist, in overnight raids Saturday in occupied East Jerusalem, amid increasing tension on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City.

Head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners Amjad Abu Asab told Ma’an that Israeli police detained 10 Palestinians, nine of which were from the Old City.

Two Old City residents were identified as former prisoners Ahmad Ghazala and Laith Shalabi. Israeli forces also detained Mamun Hashim, Shadi Sidir, Jihad Salim, Muhammad Jabir, Mahmoud Abd al-Ghani and his son Amjad Abd al-Ghani, as well as another unidentified Jerusalemite.

Israeli forces also detained journalist Amjad Arafah after raiding his house in Ras al-Amoud southeast of the Old City. Arafah was called for interrogation on Saturday and released, only to be detained again on Sunday.

Israeli spokesperson Luba al-Samri confirmed in a statement Sunday morning that nine Palestinians had been detained overnight in Jerusalem in connection with “disturbing order” and throwing stones in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as well as in the Silwan neighborhood south of the Old City.

She added that some of the Palestinians had been detained for suspected involvement in an assault of an Israeli police officer Saturday night at Damascus Gate, an entrance to the Old City, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshipers had been present in Al-Aqsa and around the Old City on Saturday night for Leilat al-Qadr, on one of the last days of the holy month of Ramadan.

Al-Samri said at the time that there had been no injuries during the limited clashes that broke out around midnight when “Muslim” youths — likely referring to local Palestinian youth — threw rocks at Israeli police forces outside of Damascus Gate.

Her statement Sunday said that since “disorder” began last week at Al-Aqsa and the old city, 58 suspects had been detained and were still being investigated as police continued to search the area for remaining suspects.

Reports emerged on Thursday that Israeli police formed a new unit to carry out detentions across Jerusalem. However, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld on Saturday denied any such unit had been established but noted there had been an increase in detentions over recent weeks in connection to unrest at Al-Aqsa.

Tensions increased on the compound amid the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as right-wing Israelis toured the site under armed guard.

Because of the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa compound, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls it to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tensions with Palestinian worshipers.

For years, non-Muslims and tourists have been completely banned from the compound during the final ten holiest days of Ramadan. However, right-wing Israelis toured the site for two consecutive days last week, sparking clashes with Palestinian youth that were violently suppressed by Israeli police.

Israeli authorities responded by officially closing Al-Aqsa to non-Muslim visitors for the remaining days of Ramadan, however reports of Palestinian youth throwing stones at Israeli military targets — and in one instance at Jewish worshipers at the neighboring Western Wall — have continued.

(Source / 03.07.2016)

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Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives.

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