Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Violence Erupts In Jerusalem Following Palestinian Death

The death of a Palestinian at the hands of an Israeli security guard in the West Bank has led to yet another violent confrontation on the Temple Mount between Palestinians hurling rocks at Jewish parishioners in the Kotel area below the Temple Mount and security forces who have thus far avoided forcibly entering the al Aqsa mosque.

The Israeli security guard apparently shot and killed the Palestinian man when his vehicle came under attack by a group of Palestinians throwing rocks at the vehicles.
Hours later, following the funeral of shooting victim Samer Sarhan, 32, Palestinian youths in the restive Silwan neighborhood confronted Israeli police, throwing rocks, setting three cars on fire and injuring at least seven passersby, Israeli police said.

Rock-throwing attacks soon spread to other parts of East Jerusalem, including the Old City. At least five Palestinians were also injured, Palestinian authorities said.

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The riots marked one of the most violent days in Jerusalem in recent months, with the sounds of police sirens and helicopters filling the air and black smoke rising in the sky.

In a rare move, Israeli riot police briefly raided the compound around Al Aqsa mosque, an Islamic holy site in the Old City, to clear the area of young Palestinian men whom they feared would pelt Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below. Israeli police typically do not enter the compound area to avoid exacerbating religious tensions.

Palestinian leaders accused the Israeli government of provoking the violence as an attempt to deflect attention from the current impasse in peace talks, which could collapse as early as Sunday if Israel ends a partial moratorium on construction in the West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem.

"This violent escalation by the Israeli occupying forces represents destructive measures that defeat the peace-building agenda,'' said Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib. He blamed Wednesday's violence on Israel's policy to allow "heavily armed settlers in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods."

A leading Israeli human rights group said security in Palestinian neighborhoods should not be left in the hands of private security firms.

Israeli officials in turn accused Palestinian agitators in Silwan of ambushing the security guard, who they said shot in self-defense. Police denied the violence was linked to the recent restart of peace talks.

"There's no connection whatsoever,'' said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. "This was a local incident that should be put in proportion."
Palestinians have repeatedly used rock throwing instances and Israeli police reprisals as a justification for rioting and further attacks from the Temple Mount.

Israel has occasionally limited access to the Temple Mount to prevent teens and young men from entering the area to avoid the very situation of rock throwing from the Temple Mount. Expect that this will again be the situation heading into the weekend.

Thus far, 10 people have been injured, including three police officers. Palestinian officials claim that this was a premeditated act by the Israeli security officer, but that's just more inflammatory talk on his part. The incident began when a crowd of Palestinians blocked the path of the Israeli's vehicle and began hurling rocks at the vehicle.
Throughout the day, violence spread from Silwan to the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, as angry rioters threw thousands of stones at police forces.

Ten people were injured, including a 35-year-old Israeli in moderate condition who was stabbed in the back near Mount of Olives. Police reported that attendees threw stones at officers, vehicles and buses causing injuries and damage, and that a police vehicle and several other vehicles were set alight near Jerusalem's Old City.

Three Egged busses were destroyed by stoning near the Western Wall, injuring one of the bus drivers. The buses were missing all of their windows and one had blood splattered on the driver’s seat.

Eight people were arrested for disturbing the peace, five at the Temple Mount and three on Derech HaOfer, the road that leads from the Mount of Olives cemetery towards the Old City and back to Silwan.

The death of the east Jerusalem resident happened early Wednesday morning, when a security guard was driving a security vehicle on his way to a Jewish home when residents blocked the street with trash cans and began hurling rocks at him.

The guard, fearing for his life, allegedly opened fire with his personal firearm at a group of rock throwers and killed a resident. Police found two knives and screwdriver on the body of the victim, who had a previous criminal history and was known to police.
But for the rock throwing, the shooting would not have occurred.

Why did those Palestinians block the street? They don't like the fact that in a population of 50,000 Palestinians, there are 70 Israeli families living in their midst. They'd much rather have no Israelis (read as Jews) living there at all. That's the intent of any Palestinian state - to eliminate the Jewish presence within their borders.

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