Confrontations spread from Jerusalem to surrounding areas

9 October 2009

For the original article on Ma’an news, click here

A Palestinian and four Israeli police officers were injured, and dozens of Palestinians detained during confrontations spurred by heavy Israeli military presence and restricted access for Palestinians to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Barred from entering the Old City, hundreds of Palestinian men held the Friday prayer on the sidewalk outside Damascus Gate, as armed Israeli troops looked on.

After the noon prayer confrontations between Israeli armed forces and Palestinians, mostly youth, had spread to Qalandiya, where a large Israeli military checkpoint abuts the Qalandiya Refugee Camp. Stalled traffic and closed roads lead to frustrations where local youth set car tires ablaze and Israeli military officials responded by sending in more soldiers, which further increased tensions.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 18 Palestinians were injured in the last week during Jerusalem confrontations, including two children.

Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich accepted recommendations from Israeli police to tighten restrictions on Palestinians entering the Old City of Jerusalem Friday, and deployed hundreds of additional police around the city.

Israeli ambulances were also deployed, raising the Israeli alert in the city to what appeared to be its maximum degree. With clashes at the Qalandiaya checkpoint on Thursday precipitated by increased Israeli military presence in the area, tightened Israeli control of the area will likely further increase tensions.

With more than one hundred Palestinians blockaded inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City, and religious leaders urging Palestinians to remain in the city to protect the holy sites from perceived Israeli machinations to take over areas of Palestinian historical and religious significance, principally the Al-Aqsa Mosque, tensions are on the rise.

The National and Islamic forces also announced Friday as a Day of Anger, protesting an increase in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights to movement and access to the Old City.