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Hundreds of Palestinians riot in Jerusalem

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 13:51

Jerusalem: Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with police in several east Jerusalem neighbourhoods early Tuesday amid heightened religious and political tension in the Holy City.
Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters who hurled rocks at security forces in the Shuafat refugee camp. Security forces were seen arresting one protester. The Palestinians dispersed after army troops moved in.

Similar clashes broke out in other parts of mainly Arab east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.

Police said they deployed 3,000 policemen across the city.

The government`s announcement last week of plans for new Jewish settler homes in mainly Arab east Jerusalem infuriated the Palestinians, as well as the US administration which had sent Vice President Joe Biden to the region to promote new Middle East peace talks.

The reopening of a twice-destroyed landmark synagogue in Jerusalem`s walled Old City on Monday further fuelled tension.

Many Palestinians view Israeli projects near the flashpoint Al Aqsa mosque compound -- Islam`s third holiest site -- as an assault on its tense status quo or a prelude to the building of a third Jewish temple there.

"This is no mere synagogue," said Hatem Abdel Qader, the official in charge of Jerusalem affairs for Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas`s Fatah movement.

"This synagogue will be a prelude to violence and religious fanaticism and extremism, and this is not limited to Jewish extremists but includes members of the Israeli government," he added.

The Islamist Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip declared Tuesday a "day of rage and alarm" over the opening of the synagogue in the Old City, calling on Arabs and Muslims to "come to the aid of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa.

Since Friday, Israeli police have maintained restrictions on access to the compound, which Jews call Temple Mount because it is the site where their second Temple stood before Romans destroyed it in 70 AD.

Israel has also sealed off the occupied West Bank citing security reasons.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 13:51
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