Israeli police raid Jerusalem mosque : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Israeli police raid Jerusalem mosque

Accounts differ regarding Israeli helicopter strike

By JASON KEYSER, Associated Press

JERUSALEM (July 29, 2001 07:58 a.m. EDT - Firing stun grenades at Muslims who were throwing stones at Jews worshiping nearby, Israeli police entered the mosque compound that is Jerusalem's most contested religious site on Sunday.

Seven Palestinians and six Israeli police were injured, according to police and Israel's army radio.

Hundreds of police entered the compound to pursue the Muslim stonethrowers, while Jews praying at the Western Wall down below fled the barrage of rocks, with some holding plastic chairs above their heads for protection, Israel radio said.

Earlier Sunday, police blocked a small group of ultranationalist Jews who sought to march on the mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

The Jewish group, the "Temple Mount Faithful," wanted to plant a cornerstone for a future Jewish temple on the compound, the site of the two Jewish biblical temples. Two mosques, including the golden Dome of the Rock, now stand on the compound, atop the ruins of the ancient temples.

The Temple Mount Faithful was allowed to hold a short ceremony in a parking lot outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. The group brought a large cornerstone meant to symbolize the reconstruction of the temple.

After the ceremony, the cornerstone was taken from the area in order not to provoke Arab anger. The Temple Mount Faithful, numbering no more than 30, demonstrated near a gate leading to the mosques where hundreds of police turned them back.

Inside the compound, about 2,000 Muslim worshippers gathered to oppose any efforts by the group to break into the area.

Sarsour, an Arab Israeli and leader of the Islamic Movement, warned that any radical Jew forcing his way onto the mosque compound would provoke a confrontation.

"If, God forbid, these people will break through the police blockades, we will defend the mosques with our bodies," Sarsour told Israel radio.

The compound, which is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam, is where Israeli-Palestinian violence erupted last September, sparking a Palestinian uprising that is now 10 months old.

The Temple Mount is the site of the two biblical Jewish Temples. Two mosques, including the golden Dome of the Rock, now sit atop the ruins of the temples.

Israel claims sovereignty over the site, though an Islamic trust has day-to-day control of the compound. Since the violence broke out, only Muslims have been allowed inside the compound.

Israeli police were also out in force to protect Jewish worshippers gathered at the Western Wall and the adjoining plaza, which are on the edge of the compound. Observant Jews were marking Tisha B'Av, a holiday commemorating the destruction of Jewish temples at the site.

Muslim groups called for worshippers to come to the mosques in large numbers to prevent any attempt by Jews to enter the compound. But Levy said police would keep order.

Both sides claim sovereignty over the compound, which was one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that collapsed amid the current fighting.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 29, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ