Riots in Hebron last week
Photo: AP
Islamic Jihad urges escalation of conflict in West Bank
Palestinian group calls to step up clashes with Israeli security forces in light of al-Aqsa Mosque tensions. Hamas: Protect our Islamic holy places from risk of Judaization. Meanwhile, PA to convene in Hebron as act of protest against Israel's decision to declare Cave of Patriarchs a national heritage site

Islamic Jihad on Sunday called to step up clashes with Israeli security forces across the West Bank in light of recent events at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City.


"The movement calls on all of the forces among our people to escalate the conflict with the enemy. We call on the (Palestinian) Authority to cease arrests of militants and halt the oppression of rage rallies in the West Bank," a statement issued by the militant group read.


Sunday saw Israeli police forces storm the most contentious holy site in Jerusalem to disperse masked Palestinian protesters hurling objects at a crowd of visitors, authorities said.


The incident was over quickly, but the area remained tense afterward. In the past, violence at the site — known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary — has erupted into deadly battles. Palestinian officials warned Sunday's unrest threatened to undermine new attempts to restart peace talks.


Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police dispersed some 20 masked protesters who had holed up overnight in the Al-Aqsa mosque inside the hilltop compound. The protesters pelted tourists with objects early Sunday, and threw rocks at the police when they responded to the incident, he said.


Palestinian officials said the youths thought Jewish extremists — not tourists — were entering the compound and would try to take it over. Small groups of masked Palestinians continued to clash with police elsewhere in Jerusalem's Old City and in a nearby neighborhood just outside the walled area.

Throwing stones Sunday in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: AP)


In Gaza, Hamas' minister of religious affairs, Taleb Abu Shaar, called on Palestinians to rise up violently against Israel and "protect our Islamic holy places from the risk of Judaization."


He called on the United Nations to impose sanctions on Israel "because of its crimes."


In response to the tensions at the Temple Mount, Nabil Abu Rdainah, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, accused Israel of stoking tensions to undermine US attempts to revive peace talks. Israel's actions, he said, would “naturally affect the American efforts and destroy them."


Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority government, which is based in Ramallah, is set to convene in Hebron on Monday as an act of protest against Israel's decision to include the Cave of Patriarchs, which is located in the West Bank city, on its list of national heritage sites.


Hebron Governor Hussein Al Araj said Sunday that the government's meeting will be a display of official Palestinian presence in the heart of Hebron as a means of countering Israel's decision.


The governor added that the PA is continuing to examine possible responses to Jerusalem's decision. "Holding the meeting in Hebron is aimed at conveying the message that the PA is present in Hebron – in its old city and alleyways," Al Araj said.


AP and Reuters contributed to the report


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