LIVE BLOG: Jerusalem on the brink

#InsideIsrael

After months of settler violence and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, the city is now on a knife-edge - MEE brings you the latest developments throughout the day

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October 23 Oct 2018 16:59 UTC
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Round-up of events overnight:

  • Amid heavy Israeli police presence, hundreds of Palestinians attend funeral late Thursday in Jerusalem for Mu'taz al-Hijazi, the man allegedly behind the attempted assassination of right-wing rabbi Yehuda Glick on Wednesday
  • The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound opened early on Friday for dawn prayers and was expected to stay open throughout the day 

Clashes continuing in East Jerusalem

Clashes are continuing in East Jerusalem, according to social media reports.

Arrested Palestinian journalist released in Jerusalem

Kerry to meet Palestinian negotiator on Monday

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that US Secretary of State John Kerry will Monday meet in Washington with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat, for talks on the peace process.

Kerry will welcome a Palestinian delegation for discussions on "the way forward" in the stalled peace process and the situation in Gaza.

Photo: Clashes in the West bank over the closure of al-Aqsa



(MEE/Fadi Arouri)



(MEE/Fadi Arouri)



(MEE/Fadi Arouri)

 

Al-Aqsa demonstrations reach Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria

Demonstations over the closure of the al-Aqsa compound have reached as far as the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria.

Yarmouk camp has been under heavy siege from the Assad government since rebel forces entered the camp in 2013.

Photo: Friday prayers outside the Al-Aqsa compound

Israeli President attacked on social media by right-wing critics

Right-wing Israelis have launched a campaign against Israeli President Reuven Rivlin over his reconciliatory gestures towards the Arab/Palestinian community in Israel.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Facebook users savaging Rivlin with comments like “thanks to the Arab fascists who elected you,” and “this bastard is condemning Jews who moved into homes in Jerusalem. It reminds me a bit of the race laws, but when it comes to Jews, everything goes.”

At the beginning of the parliamentary winter session in the Knesset, Rivlin described some of the slurs used against him

“I’ve been called a ‘lying kike’ by my critics,” Rivlin said.

“’May you die, Arab agents,’ ‘Go be president in Gaza,’ ‘Smelly Arab sycophant,’ ‘traitor,’ ‘the president of Hezbollah’.”

Social media also circulated a photo of the President wearing the Arab keffiyeh:

Rivlin, a former Likud MK, had come under attack from the Israeli right-wing for his acknowledgement of the 1956 Kafr Qasem massacre in 47 Palestinians were killed by Israeli border police.

Photo: Friday prayers outside the Al-Aqsa compound

Hijazi autopsy shows he was shot at least 20 times

The initial autopsy report of Mu'taz Hijazi shows that he was shot all over the body at least 20 times and that his death was caused by severe bleeding from his chest, neck, hands, legs, lungs, and heart, according to the Ma'an news agency.

Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer for the Addameer Palestinian prisoners' rights group, was quoted in the news agency saying that "bullets struck Hijazi in the chest area, including heart and lungs, six hit his neck area, one hit his shoulder, one hit the right thigh, two hit his right arm, one hit his pelvis, three hit his right leg and four hit his left leg."

Jersualem palestinian arrested after weapons discovered in home

Israeli police have detained a Palestinian man in the al-Sawahra al-Sharqiya neighbourhood of East Jerusalem after they found weapons in his home.

Israeli news site Wallah have reported that two Ak-47s and a pistol were found in the man's house during the raid.

The man, who has remained unidentified, was taken to a police station in the Maale Adumim settlement after the discovery.

Hijazi family mourning tent hit with tear gas

There were reports an hour ago of clashes that broke out in Thawri, the district where Mu'taz Hijazi was killed yesterday morning.

Now, Palestine Information Centre reports that the mourning tent for Hijazi has been hit with tear gas.

Dozens of people are suffering the effects of tear gas inhalation.



The mourning tent for Mu'taz Hijazi last night (Twitter / @Mahmoud_Batrawi)

2 children injured in Qalandiya clashes

Another four people have been injured during ongoing clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint, reports local television station Palestine Today.

Two of the injured were children, according to the site.

ActiveStills, a photography collective on the ground in Qalandiya, reports that Israeli forces were using live ammunition. There had earlier been news that the troops were using rubber-coated metal bullets.



Photo credit: Twitter / @activestills



Photo credit: Twitter / @activestills

Israel's Temple Mount movement funded by government ministries

+972 has a story today on the history of the movement to allow Jews to pray at the al-Aqsa compound, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount.

Aviv Tatarsky, who has been closely following the activity of the Temple Mount societies for Ir Amim, told MEE that while the movement has been gaining support among a certain segment of Israeli society, to a large extent they still remain on the fringes.

“For many decades they were considered very fringe … in the last five years they have begun getting funding from government ministries like the Education Ministry and have managed to change the way they are presenting what they are doing," he said.

Tatarksy says that in the past year, the societies have stopped speaking about building a third temple and instead focused on Jewish rights to pray there, a strategy he says has been successful in garnering mainstream support within the national religious sector.

But the researcher, who spoke at the event where the attempt was made on Glick’s life on Wednesday night, noted that there were only “maximum 70 participants at a major conference” for the movement.

“There’s a gap between how important it is to the people supporting them, such as MK Moshe Feiglin and [Minister of Housing Uri Ariel]… including the fact that they have backing in the coalition and have managed to impose on the police to change their policies regarding the Temple Mount [and mainstream opinion]. This is quite dangerous and doesn’t fit in with what the vast majority of the Israeli public wants.”

Sound bombs, tear gas in al-Thawri

Local news site Zamn Press reports that clashes have broken in out in Thawri, the Jerusalem district where Mu'taz Hijazi was shot and killed on Thursday morning. 

Israeli forces used sound bombs and tear gas to break up the clashes.

Yesterday, reporter Dan Cohen reported being forced off the suburban rooftop of Hijazi's home by clouds of tear gas, as confrontations broke out after the shooting.



Photo credit: Twitter / @DanCohen3000

8 Palestinians reportedly shot in Qalandia

MEE contributors in Qalandia, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah, are reporting that eight Palestinians have been wounded in clashes with Israeli soldiers within the past few hours.



Clashes in Qalandia on Friday afternoon (MEE/Fadi Arouri)

In pictures: Hebron clashes

The West Bank town of Hebron was the scene of a march followed by intense clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces today, despite heavy rainfall.



Photo credit: Facebook / PalInfo



Photo credit: Facebook / PalInfo



Photo credit: Facebook / PalInfo

 

 



Photo credit: Facebook / PalInfo

Huge march in Gaza in support of al-Aqsa

Thousands of people took to the streets of a rainy Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon, in a march organised by Islamic Jihad.



Thousands throng the streets of Gaza after Friday prayers (Facebook / paltimes)



Thousands throng the streets of Gaza after Friday prayers (Facebook / paltimes)

In a speech at the march, Islamic Jihad leader Ahmed Mudallal thanked the crowds for "coming out to confirm the choice of resistance, one that Mu'taz Hijazi picked yesterday."



Islamic Jihad leader Ahmed Mudallal at the forefront of the crowds (Facebook / paltoday)

"Palestinian authorities have no choice but to stop negotiations with the occupier and to come together under the banner of the resistance."

 

 

Large-scale flooding in Gaza

Gaza's Civil Defence Forces reported on Friday afternoon that 11 houses have been flooded in Khuza'a today, amid heavy rainfall and hailstorms.

Many remain displaced since the latest war in Gaza, and reconstruction efforts remain largely stymied as winter approaches.

 

Old City 'quiet' amid heavy rains

As violent clashes broke out in parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank, Jerusalem's Old City appears relatively calm today.

There was a huge deployment of Israeli police in the town's old city and East Jerusalem, amid large numbers of female worshippers and males over the age of 50.

 

Injuries reported at Qalandiya checkpoint

There have been reports of injuries during the clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem from Ramallah.

A man was wounded in the face by a burning tear gas canister, reports Palestine Information Centre.

Others sustained injuries from rubber bullet fire - Palestine Today alleges that the ammunition used was in fact rubber-covered metal bullets.

Local news site Zamn Press described the condition of one of the injured protesters as "severe."

 

Hamas official: Our fingers are on the trigger

Highlighting the escalating tensions in Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories, Hamas leader Fathi Hamad said on Friday that they have their "fingers on the trigger."

His comments came as marches set out across Jerusalem and in the West Bank - large numbers of additional Israeli forces were deployed in Hebron as Palestinians marched through the city.



Photo credit: Twitter / @MEwaisPress

Police await clashes outside West Bank mosques

Sources tell MEE that hundreds of Israeli police are waiting outside mosques in the West Bank as tensions escalate in anticipation of further violent clashes today.

3,000 Israeli police officers are thought to be stationed throughout Jerusalem today - three times more than usual.



Mounted officers at Mu'taz Hijazi's funeral on Thursday night (MEE)

Clashes at Qalandiya, Wadi al-Joz

Clashes have begun to break out in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon.

The Qalandiya checkpoint saw fierce confrontations between Palestinian marchers and Israeli police, who have been deployed in large numbers today.

Tear gas was fired, and Palestine Today reports that an Israeli military tower at the checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem from Ramallah, was set alight.

Protesters held aloft signs reading "at your service, al-Aqsa", a slogan used by Hamas to call for demonstrations against yesterday's closure of the holy site.



Photo credit: Twitter / @ahmedalqutaty

There were also clashes in Wadi al-Joz, just north of Jerusalem's Old City - male worshippers under the age of 50, who are prohibited from entering al-Aqsa today, prayed in the street before clashes broke out.



Photo credit: Twitter / @watany1974

A 10-year old child was injured during the march, when a rubber bullet smashed a car window.

Security services believe Glick's shooter had accomplice

Israel's security services, Shin Bet, believe that the person behind the attempted assassination of Yehuda Glick on Wednesday had an accomplice.

Mu'taz Hijazi, whom Shin Bet suspected of being behind the attack, was shot dead on Thursday morning as police stormed his house.

However, Shin Bet increasingly suspect that he was not working alone, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Friday.

Sources involved in the investigation said yesterday that Glick had received numerous death threats over the past two years - Israeli police officials have denied this.

There were also demands for a further investigation after it was revealed that Hijazi was an employee at the restaurant of the Menachem Begin Centre, where Glick was shot.

Senior officials involved in the case raised concerns over the fact that the restaurant, which is frequented by top Israeli politicians, employed Hijazi, who had served a lenghty prison term.

Fatah official tells MEE: al-Aqsa restrictions are nothing new

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of Fatah and former minister for Jerusalem affairs, spoke to MEE on Friday morning. He told us about the situation on the ground in Jerusalem as heavy rain falls on the city and throughout the West Bank.

"There is still a lot of tension, especially around the ongoing funeral for Hijazi" - Mu'taz Hijazi's body was buried on Thursday night, but people will continue to give their condolences to his family for a further two days.



A man joins the procession at Hijazi's burial ceremony on Thursday night (MEE)

Qader said that, though the Palestinian Authority has not issued any calls for further confrontations, they "still expect clashes between the youth and the security forces to continue.

"The Israelis were forced due to pressure from the US and Jordan to reopen the gates [of the al-Aqsa compound]. 

"But the youth [men under 40 or 50] have been denied access to al-Aqsa on a recurring and regular basis over the past year. This in itself, as well as settlers raiding al-Aqsa, provoke people and may be the reason for the ongoing clashes."

Jerusalem police ready to 'prevent and respond to incidents'

Imam of al-Aqsa tells MEE: We won't stand idle if al-Aqsa is shut

MEE spoke to Dr Sheikh Ekrimah Saeed Sabry, imam of al-Aqsa and former grand mufti of Jerusalem, after dawn prayers on Friday.

"[Israeli authorities] were forced to open the gates, because al-Aqsa is for Muslims, not for Jews. Today the mosque is open, but only for people aged 50 and over.

"Only about 100 worshippers entered al-Aqsa for morning prayers.

"Now that the doors have reopened, things will calm down. There may still be a reaction from the youth who are not allowed access - however, it will be less than if the doors were completely shut."

Sabry said that Friday prayers, when worshippers traditionally gather to hear a sermon, could be a tense moment this week after the closure of the mosque yesterday.

"We will see what will happen for Friday prayers.

"If al-Aqsa is shut again, we will not stand by idle."



Worshippers pray in the streets of Jerusalem after the closure of al-Aqsa on Thursday (Twitter / @1975_yahia)

Glick's life 'in danger'

Israeli military radio this morning carried a fresh statement from the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, where Yehuda Glick is receiving treatment after the attempt on his life on Wednesday night.

Glick was shot multiple times at close range after giving a speech at the Menachem Begin Centre.

Hospital officials said on Friday morning that Glick's situation remains "severe" and that "his life is in danger."



Yehuda Glick in Jerusalem in 2013 (AFP)

Round-up of events overnight on Thursday:

  • The funeral last night of Mu'taz Hijazi, shot by Israeli forces on Thursday morning, was attended by hundreds of mostly young Palestinian men, who pushed through the barriers to bury Hijazi's body in spite of restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities.



Photo credit: MEE / Oren Ziv and Yotam Ronen

  • Hamas in Hebron, a West Bank town some 50 kilometres north of Jerusalem, have called for a march "in support of al-Aqsa" after Friday prayers today. The tagline of the march call-out is "al-Aqsa is a responsibilty for us all."
  • Israeli police have set up checkpoints on the roads leading to Jerusalem, fearing that Friday prayers could be a flashpoint for anger among Palestinians seeking to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • Israel has withdrawn its envoy from Sweden, after the Swedish Parliament on Thursday voted to recognise the state of Palestine.
  • al-Aqsa Mosque, the closure of which yesterday ignited tensions, was open for dawn prayers on Friday to women of all ages and men over the age of 50.

Dimi Reider: "It’s a nationalist government elected to pursue nationalist objectives"

Dimi Reider, Israeli journalist and associate fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations told MEE that he saw tensions rising, but not to a "full-fledged" war.

"Jerusalem is obviously on the brink, but probably not on the brink of a full-fledged intifada, for many reasons.

"It’s likely we’re entering a period of sustained community violence, especially grassroots violence on the part of the Palestinians and state violence on the part of the Israelis.

"I don’t see a proper civil war breaking out, for many reasons. There isn’t the infrastructure for that.

"I don’t think there’ll be a sharp escalation in construction [in occupied territories], but we’ll keep seeing the sporadic construction of a thousand houses here, a thousand houses there. Its hard for me to see the current government sobering up. It’s a nationalist government elected to pursue nationalist objectives and that’s what they’re going to do."