Israelis and Palestinians clash at al-Aqsa mosque

Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police at East Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound Oct. 9, leaving three officers lightly injured, according to police. Israeli authorities said the clashes erupted after several dozen masked Palestinians began throwing stones, fire crackers and other pyrotechnical devices at police when al-Aqsa mosque opened for prayers. Police chased the demonstrators towards the mosque, where they barricaded themselves inside and continued hurling objects toward the police, authorities said. Palestinian sources said the clash erupted after dozens of Israelis tried to invade the mosque while marking the Sukkot feast. They said soldiers threw tear-gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated bullets at the Palestinians in the complex and even into the interior of the mosque. (IMEMC, Al Jazeera, Oct. 8)

Also Oct. 9, dozens of Palestinian farmers and Israeli settlers clashed in the Yanun valley near Aqraba village south of Nablus. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an News Agency that several Israeli settlers from Itamar attacked dozens of Palestinian farmers and attempted to steal their olive crop, which belongs to the Abu Rinan family. In 2013, there were 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (Ma'an)

  1. Israeli jails fill with Palestinian juveniles after summer riots

    Hundreds of suspects under the age of 18 have been arrested in East Jerusalem since the riots began there some three months ago. Residents accuse the authorities of neglect and the police of violating the minors’ rights and of brutal treatment, saying "they're turning little children into terrorists." (Haaretz, Sept. 19)

  2. Settlers torch mosque near Nablus

    Israeli settlers set fire to a mosque in the Nablus-area village of Aqraba overnight, locals said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity, told Ma'an that a group of settlers broke the doors and windows of the Abu Baker al-Saddiq mosque and vandalized the interior with racist slogans. The settlers then set fire to part of the mosque before being chased away by Palestinian villagers. Locals managed to extinguish the fire and prevent it from burning down the whole mosque. (Ma'an)

  3. Battle over al-Aqsa mosque heats up

    Middle East Monitor reports that an Arab Knesset member has revealed that there will be a vote in the next month on a law drafted by an Israeli committee regarding the partition of al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews. Arab MK Masoud Ghanayim was quoted on Oct. 20 by Palestinian newspaper Felesteen as saying that "the draft law, which has been prepared by the interior parliamentary committee in the Knesset, stipulates that Jews can perform prayers in al-Aqsa Mosque… This is based on a proposal that gives Muslims and Jews equal rights in their access and use of the holy site. It also specifies certain locations where Jews can perform their prayers."

    Both Rabbinical and Israeli law currently bans Jews from prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque because of the sanctity of the site for the Jewish religion. Most Jews who lobby to pray there are illegal settlers with a right wing agenda.

    In comments reported in Haaretz, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Oct. 17 called  for the defense of al-Aqsa Mosque against Israel. Speaking at the West Bank town of Albira, Abbas referred to "settlers" entering the mosque, although it was unclear if he meant West Bank settlers or Israelis in general. He said Palestinians "must be present at the Al-Aqsa Mosque," he said. "We must stop them (the settlers) from entering by any means possible. This is our mosque and they have no right to enter it and defile it."

    Referring to Jerusalem by its Arabic name, he said: "Al Quds has a special place in the heart of every Palestinian, of every Arab, be they Muslim or Christian, Al Quds is the jewel in the crown and the eternal capital of the Palestinian people, and without which there will be no state."