Marching in Silwan
Photo: Ronen Medzini
Riots in east Jerusalem
Photo: AFP

Clerics urge Jerusalem's Muslims to 'protect al-Aqsa'

As traditional Jerusalem parade begins, capital's police on high alert in wake of increasing unrest in city, muezzins call on believers to guard Temple Mount against Jews trying to enter it

The Jerusalem Police declared a high state of alert on Monday night ahead of Tuesday's traditional march through the capital's streets, in the wake of the riots plaguing the Old City.


Monday night saw the muezzins of Jerusalem's mosques urge the city's Muslims to rally to the defense of al-Aqsa Mosque, for fear "Jews will try to break into it."


Muslims were called to "thwart" any attempt by Jewish groups to enter the compound.


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Jerusalem District Police Commander, Major-General Aharon Franco held a security assessment earlier in the evening and decided to deploy hundreds of police and Border Guard officers in the al-Aqsa compound, its immediate vicinity, the Old City and east Jerusalem.


The Sukkot march began Tuesday morning at the capital's Ammunition Hill, and was expected to pass through the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. At 2 pm marchers were scheduled to arrive at Sacher Park, and then walk with a wider public along the Bezalel, Ben Yehuda, King George and Agron Street in the city center. Hundreds of officers were deployed in the area in order to secure the march.


Sources in the capital's police department stressed that they would meet any attempt to disrupt public order with a harsh response. Access to the Temple Mount compound will remain restricted Tuesday as well, as only worshipers 50 years and older, carrying Israeli IDs, would be allowed in.

Deployment in Jerusalem (Photo: AFP)


The Israel Defense Forces are following developments in Jerusalem closely, fearing that the unrest might find its way to other areas, or be bolstered by local Palestinian groups or terror organizations.


Nevertheless, military sources told Ynet that they do not anticipate further escalation in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.


The IDF's data indicates an increase in terror activity in September, noting 95 terror incidents: Thirty-eight in the West Bank sector, 45 in Gaza and 12 in Jerusalem. August's data indicated 53 terror incidents: Thirty-two in the West Bank sector, 19 in Gaza and two in Jerusalem.


The majority of terror events were stoning and Molotov cocktail incidents.


With the overall scope of attacks nearly doubling, and in light of the recent riots in Jerusalem, the defense establishment is said to take the increase very seriously: "We're gearing for the possibility of a wide-spread escalation, from both an operational and personnel deployment aspects, but it is still too early to tell.


"We will continue to monitor the situation closely," said a military source.


Ronen Medzini, Ali Waked and Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 10.06.09, 00:32
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