Ultra-orthodox Haredim Jews torched trash cans in Jerusalem’s Shabbat Square and nearby streets March 7. Police closed all roads leading to the square and heavily deployed forces in the area. The unrest comes two days after dozens of Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces again stormed East Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound to break up protests following Friday prayers, firing tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades. (YNet, Ma’an News Agency, March 7)
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference accused Israeli police of sacrilege by occupying al-Aqsa Mosque and called for international intervention to “end Israeli aggression.” Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Jeddah-based pan-Islamic body, said in a statement that Friday’s fighting was “a sacrilegious act of profanation of the holy Islamic site.”
Fears of Israeli designs on al-Aqsa Mosque have been heightened since Israel’s inclusion of two West Bank sites—the Cave of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron/al-Khalil and Rachel’s Tomb/Bilal Mosque in Bethlehem—to an official list of “national heritage sites,” with some Palestinian commentators warning of a “religious war” between Muslims and Jews. (Palestine Chronicle, Arutz Sheva, March 7; AFP, March 6)
See our last post on the struggle for Jerusalem.