Israel Deploys Police In Jerusalem
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It has been a violent week in Jerusalem. Thousands of Israeli police have been deployed in and around the Old City. That's after several days of clashes between Muslim residents of east Jerusalem and Israeli security forces. Today, Israeli police arrested a cleric accused of inciting the violence.
From Jerusalem, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports.
Unidentified Man #1: (Foreign language spoken)
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LOURDES GARCIA: Just outside the al-Aqsa Mosque compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount, around a dozen Israeli policemen stood guard this afternoon, making sure that no men under the age of 50 entered - restrictions that had been put in place because of the recent unrest.
Unidentified Children: (Chanting) (Speaking foreign language)
GARCIA: A group of children walk by the policemen chanting: With our heart and our blood we will sacrifice all to you, al-Aqsa. One throws a rock, and then they all run down a cobblestone alleyway. The tensions are palpable here. For the past 10 days there have been numerous confrontations that have resulted in arrests and injuries.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Israel annexed it after the 1967 war, a move that has not been recognized by the international community. The friction now centers around the mosque compound, which stands on a vast stone platform that was once the site of an ancient Jewish temple.
The orator of the al-Aqsa Mosque, Akramah Sabri, says that the recent unrest was kicked off by worries that extremist settler groups will be allowed in joining the current Jewish festival of Sukkot. He says that at least 400 Palestinians are holed up inside the mosque.
AKRAMAH SABRI: (Through Translator) They are there to defend the holy sanctuary. They are not taking action against the Israelis. We are providing them with food and drink while they sleep at the site.
GARCIA: For its part, Israel alleges that the violence is part of a coordinated campaign led by Muslim extremists in both the West Bank and Israel's Arab community. Micky Rosenfeld is the Israeli police spokesperson.
MICKY ROSENFELD: We can see that there's definitely incitement going on both from within inside East Jerusalem, as well as from leaders from the north.
GARCIA: This evening, one of the men Israel accuses of fostering discontent was detained. Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of Israel's Islamic Movement, was taken into custody. He has been arrested numerous times before. NPR spoke with him before his arrest at a crowded tent just outside the walls of the Old City, where he was holding court.
RAED SALAH: (Through Translator) My message is first to Israel. Give back the sanctuary to its lawful owners. I also call on Palestinians who are able to come out to the holy sanctuary to come and stay there to protect it from these Jewish aggressors. They should come and pray whenever they can in order to show their presence and strength.
GARCIA: The Second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, was triggered in 2000 after a visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Salah said he does not rule out another uprising.
SALAH: (Through Translator) They are Judaizing the whole of Jerusalem. They are turning it into a Jewish entity away from its real identity as a sanctuary that represents Muslims worldwide.
GARCIA: Back in the Old City, Samir Shaludi(ph), who owns a small grocery store, says he expects more trouble.
SAMIR SHALUDI: (Speaking foreign language)
GARCIA: I think it will escalate, he says. They won't stop, and we won't stop. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Jerusalem.
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