Riots continue over Temple Mount bridge construction

Sunday, February 11, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
The week long riots have continued over the construction of a bridge leading to the Mugrabi Gate, and Moslems are now targeting tourists as a bus carrying Canadians was attacked when Palestinians threw stones at the bus.

The Canadian tourists escaped unharmed after police rushed to the scene to escort the bus to safety, but the bus was damaged by the rocks.

On Friday, security forces stormed the Temple Mount to disperse Moslems violently protesting the construction work at the Mugrabi Gate.

Arab teenagers from East Jerusalem set garbage bins ablaze and threw stones at Israeli police while burning an Israeli flag.

Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco said Saturday events pointed to Hamas as instigator of events.

Some 2,700 police were stationed throughout Jerusalem Friday in order to maintain order in advance of and following the prayers at the holy site. Entrance to the Temple Mount was restricted to exclusively Moslem men over the age of 45 with Israeli identity cards and Israeli Moslem women.

Nevertheless, protests broke out immediately following Friday prayers when hundreds of Moslem worshippers began throwing rocks at police officers securing the area. Fifteen police officers sustained light injuries.

The rock-throwers took refuge in the al-Aqsa Mosque and continued to throw stones. Two-hundred police officers fired stun grenades and used batons to disperse protesters. Several demonstrators were injured and 17 were arrested.

Jews praying at the Western Wall were evacuated to avoid being hit by stones from the Temple Mount.

The demonstrators left the mosque after an agreement with the police was brokered by MK Talab El-Sana.

Jerusalem District Police Commissioner Ilan Franco claimed the police incursion into the Temple Mount was justified.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter visited the Western Wall plaza Sunday morning to inspect the construction area, Israel Radio reported. Dichter said that the construction work will continue in spite of the violent protests against them.

The high security alert around the Old City will continue on Sunday and would remain with an increased strength of around 2,000 police officers, although police do not expect the violence to reach the same level as Friday.

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