Friday prayer services on the Temple Mount and other locations in Jerusalem and the vicinity ended uneventfully, despite Israeli fears that Palestinians would hold a “Day of Rage” to protest Israel’s military actions in Gaza and the arrests of terror leaders in the West Bank.
Israel’s security services had deployed troops across the Jerusalem area Friday morning to ward off possible violence and the police had prohibited the entrance to the Temple Mount for men under the age of 40, due to intelligence that indicated youths planned to hold demonstrations following the prayer services.
In the West bank cities of Ramallah, Hebron and Tulkarem, Palestinians held rallies to celebrate what they perceived to be a Hamas victory over Israel and call for unity among the Palestinian factions.
Protesters waved Palestinian and Hamas flags and shouted chants threatening to target the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa in future battles.
On Friday, the IDF and the Shin Bet carried out another wave of arrests in the West Bank, detaining 28 alleged members of terror organizations, including several members of parliament. Similar raids conducted on Thursday saw 55 people arrested. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz oversaw the operation personally.
Most of the arrested men belong to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, the military said. They were handed over to the Shin Bet for questioning.
Miiltary sources said the arrests were designed to frustrate plans by Islamist terrorists to carry out terror attacks in Israel. A bus in central Tel Aviv was blown up on Wednesday in one such attack.
The IDF reported a steep rise in violent activities in the West Bank during the week of fighting in Gaza. Rocks and molotov cocktails were thrown at civilian cars and a bus was shot at from a passing car near Gush Etzion junction, south of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem’s Old City, a young woman stabbed a soldier on Thursday.
Angry demonstrations erupted in cities all across the West Bank, in some cases leading to clashes with IDF troops; in others, they were dispersed by Palestinian security forces.
Elhanan Miller contributed to this report