East Jerusalem clashes continue. The Red Crescent in Jerusalem reported that 49 Arabs were injured around the Old City and in east Jerusalem as of noon Tuesday, including 14 people injured from rubber bullets, 16 who suffered from teargas inhalation, and the rest, from being beaten. Thirty-one demonstrators were arrested.
Speaking at the Western Wall on Tuesday, Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen said, "We see signs of riots, but this is no third intifada."
"Police will remain on high alert near the Temple Mount until this Friday. We intend on restoring calm at the site by next Sunday," he added. Meanwhile, Jerusalem Police Commander Aharon Franco said the march in Silwan was not canceled, but its final approval depends on the results of a situation evaluation.
Earlier on Tuesday Cohen commented on the situation in Jerusalem while attending a conference in southern Israel and said, "The Temple Mount is a national challenge for the police, and an international challenge. Every incident has significant ramifications on the situation. It is our job to maintain the relative calm. At this time, and in recent times, there are a number of signs of attempts to disrupt the order at the Temple Mount. This is why we have prepared in massive numbers, including today, to enable the freedom of worship."
In total, 31 Palestinians were arrested in Abu Dis, Hawara, Wadi Joz, al-Tur, and around the Temple Mount. The riots also spread to Naalin, where 50 Palestinians hurled stones at security forces. IDF soldiers responded with crowd control means. There were no reports of injuries.
Members of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and Arab Knesset members planned to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque at 10 am Tuesday, but their arrival was delayed by several hours due to police barriers on the way. "The checkpoints that created massive traffic jams are a boomerang, that got the message across to hundreds of thousands of people, and this will only boost the effect of our protest," Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka told Ynet from inside the mosque. According to Zahalka the atmosphere was very tense, and reminiscent of the eve of the second intifada and the October 2000 riots.
MK Ahmad Tibi said gunshots could be heard from every direction: "There is a sense that they are trying to reoccupy east Jerusalem, we are here to protest what we call the judaization of Jerusalem. Anyone that claims there is freedom of worship cannot prevent Muslims from coming here to pray. It is obvious that the goal is to leave the al-Aqsa Mosque without worshippers.
Firing stun grenade in Isawiya (Photo: Reuters)
MK Talab El-Sana's car was stoned upon his arrival at the mosque, after he got caught in clashes between rioters and security forces. The United Arab List – Ta'al MK said, "The Netanyahu government is dangerous and irresponsible and is leading the region to a third intifada."
Chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee Mohammad Zeidan arrived at the site around noon, and met with members of the Waqf administration's delegation. "I urge the Arab nation to take steps in order to defend al-Aqsa and Jerusalem," he said.
MK Haneen Zoubi (Balad) said, "Israel is testing the Palestinian and international threshold via the violent policies of judaization and occupation it is applying in Jerusalem: Massive Jewish inhabitation in the east of the city and in the Arab neighborhoods, the demolition of houses, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, revoking identity cards, suppressing demonstrations, arresting resident, picking on human rights activists."
Zoubi, who was in Jerusalem on Tuesday, added, "This policy is nothing short of ethnic cleansing, and it constitutes a strong motive for the launch of a third intifada, even more than Sharon's visit to the al-Aqsa mosque. It seems that the official Palestinian and Arab stance has given Israel the wrong message: That the Palestinians will not fight for their freedom and their rights, and that the intifadas are a thing of the past. This is an incorrect assumption, as the ongoing aggression and occupation in Jerusalem make an intifada an unpreventable measure."
Despite the fact that the Arabs in east Jerusalem opened the day with violent riots, Zoubi urged the government not to ferment the situation. "I am addressing the government and warning of a flare-up that will drag the area into a violent conflict. We will not sit idly by as the rights of the Palestinian people in general and the residents of Jerusalem in particular are trampled. There is no link between the rights of the Palestinian people in east Jerusalem and the honorable Joe Biden or the honorable United States, and there is no right timing to populate Arab neighborhoods with Jews. There is no good timing for occupation! Israel must seek a solution to its true crisis, which is not with the US administration, but with the Palestinian people."
Shmulik Grossman, Ali Waked, Sharon Roffe-Ofir and Ilana Curiel contributed to this report