Security Forces Face Off Against Arab Rioters Over Har Habayis Security Measures

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Clashes erupt between Israeli police and Palestinians protesters clash in the eastern Yerushalayim neighborhood of Ras el Amud, outside the Old City, following Friday prayers. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Arabs faced off against police and Border Guards throughout the afternoon in Yerushalayim, as thousands of Israeli security troops attempted to keep order in the face of violent riots over the refusal of Israel to remove security measures at the entrances to Har Habayis.

Media outlets, citing Palestinian sources, said that three Palestinians had died: Mohammed Sharaf, 17, and Mohammad Hassan Abu Ghannam, age unknown, and Mohammed Lafi, 18. 377 protesters had been injured.

In its 5 PM newscast, Channel One reported that at least in the area of the Damascus Gate, “life has returned to normal. You can see that there are families and children walking here calmly, although there are riots in other places. This day surprised us somewhat, as we expected things to be much worse. It appears that most people have returned home, and that the day has passed with less violence than was expected,” Channel One said.

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Muslim Palestinians pray in the eastern Yerushalayim neighborhood of Ras el Amud, outside the Old City, on Friday. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Police had decided to leave the body scanners and metal detectors placed last weekend at the entrances to Har Habayis in place, after a late-night decision in which the security cabinet left the final decision in the hands of police. The security measures were set in place last weekend, after last Friday’s terror attack that saw two Israeli police officers murdered by Arab terrorists, who attempted to take refuge on Har Habayis.

Police had prepared for unrest in the city over the ongoing Palestinian refusal to accept the presence of body scanners and metal detectors at the entrances to Har Habayis. Some 5,000 police, Border Guards, and IDF soldiers were deployed to keep order, and Arabs age 50 and under were banned from entering the Old City altogether. That step had the desired effect; the Old City itself was relatively quiet, with few incidents reported within its walls, or at the entrances to Har Habayis, where the Muslim Waqf had planned major protests. Unable to enter the Old City, Waqf officials conducted protests and prayer sessions outside the Old City walls.

In one of the riots on Salah a-Din Street, near the Damascus Gate (Sha’ar Shechem), police said that several Arab MKs and Muslim religious leaders made speeches inciting Arabs to riot. Riots were also reported in Hevron, Shechem, the Kalandia checkpoint, at Kever Rochel, and in parts of Gush Etzion. Altogether, the Palestinian Red Crescent medical group said some 250 rioters were injured in unrest on Friday afternoon. Police used anti-riot measures to break up crowds in several areas. Several Israeli police officers suffered minor injuries, Israeli officials said. Protests against the Har Habayis security measures also took place across the Arab and Muslim world, including in Jordan, Turkey, and Pakistan.


Updated Friday, July 21, 2017 at 12:06 pm