Israeli Arabs protest ban on Palestinians at Temple Mount
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Israeli Arabs protest ban on Palestinians at Temple Mount

Demonstrations held around the country over restrictions imposed in wake of terror attacks; youth group calls for school strike

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A Palestinian boy holds up a banner reading in Arabic "What if they destroy al-Aqsa" during a demonstration in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 5, 2015 (Said Khatib/AFP)
A Palestinian boy holds up a banner reading in Arabic "What if they destroy al-Aqsa" during a demonstration in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 5, 2015 (Said Khatib/AFP)

Hundreds of Arab Israelis took to the streets Monday evening to protest a 48-hour ban on Palestinians from the West Bank entering the Old City of Jerusalem, home to the Temple Mount.

In northern Israel, dozens of protesters waved Palestinian flags at junctions leading to city of Carmiel and the Arab town of Kafr Kana. The protests were being held under the name “The third intifada is here.”

A spokesperson for the Joint (Arab) List, Rami Younis, told The Times of Israel that the predominantly Arab cities of Shfaram, Nazareth, Baqa al-Gharbiya and Taybe were holding demonstrations against the measures. He confirmed that a number of Arab lawmakers would attend the protests.

In Nazareth, dozens of masked protesters amassed along the central artery between the city and the nearby Jewish town of Nazareth Illit, Channel 2 television reported Monday night. They held up traffic, set fire to tires and threw stones at police forces and passing buses. There were no injuries reported.

Also Monday, an Arab youth movement called on Israeli Arab schools to strike to protest the limited access to the Temple Mount, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque. The mosque has been at the center of repeated clashes between Israeli security forces and Muslim rioters in recent weeks.

Rioters have used the mosque as a staging ground for their protests, Israeli security forces say, while Palestinian and Arab leaders accuse Israel of planning to change the status quo — namely, the current policy that forbids Jewish prayer — at the site. Israel denies any shift in policy on the Mount is in the offing.

Four Israelis have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks since Thursday. Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in escalating clashes in the West Bank on Sunday and Monday.

Students belonging to the loosely organized al Hirak al Shababi movement have been urged to stay home on Tuesday to “protest the recent confrontations at the al-Aqsa Mosque,” Ynet reported.

Striking students will join shuttered Palestinian businesses and schools in East Jerusalem.

Police prevented access to Palestinians in the wake of the terror attacks in the Old City, in which two Israeli men were stabbed to death on Saturday, the wife of one of the victims was badly injured and their baby was lightly injured. Hours later, an Israeli teenager was stabbed nearby. The two Palestinian assailants were shot dead by security forces. The PA did not condemn the terror attacks, but did condemn Israel for killing the assailants.

Shops inside the Old City’s walls, including trinkets store popular with tourists, closed down Sunday and Monday. Few people could be seen at the usually bustling Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Old City from East Jerusalem.

Outside of the Old City, businesses and schools in East Jerusalem also declared a strike in solidarity.

The entrance to the Souk of the Old City in Jerusalem on Sunday, October 4, 2015. The streets, usually bustling with tourists, are almost deserted, after the government decided in an unprecedented step to ban entry to Palestinians who are not residents of the city. Other store owners closed down shop in protest at the move. (Benjamin Pileggi/The Times of Israel)
The entrance to the Souk of the Old City in Jerusalem on Sunday, October 4, 2015. The streets, usually bustling with tourists, are almost deserted, after the government decided to ban entry to Palestinians who are not residents of the city. (Benjamin Pileggi/The Times of Israel)

A number of parents of the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina elected to keep their children home from school — not in solidarity with the protesters, but out of security concerns.

“They have to ride the bus to school, but there are police everywhere, and parents are worried that their kids will be arrested,” a student named Afnan told the Hebrew daily Maariv on Monday.

According to Afnan, the small number of students who showed up to school in the Old City had difficulties getting around, and were subjected to thorough security checks.

“The parents are upset because the police are checking the children’s backpacks. They may be looking for rocks, but I personally don’t know of any kids who come to school with rocks in their bag,” she said.

Israeli security forces have beefed up their presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank as clashes and attacks roiled the capital and West Bank for days.

Police were on high alert Monday night ahead of events closing out the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Channel 2 news reported, with thousands visiting the Western Wall.

Israel has carried out a number of raids in the West Bank since a Palestinian terror attack Thursday night in the West Bank that killed an Israeli couple in front of their children.

AP and Elhanan Miller contributed to this report.

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