Police arrest 72 Palestinians suspected in Temple Mount riots
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Police arrest 72 Palestinians suspected in Temple Mount riots

Officials say 43 of those detained in past week have been charged with violent offenses during clashes last month in Jerusalem

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on July 19, 2017, following a demonstration against new Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount. (AFP/Musa Al Shaer)
Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on July 19, 2017, following a demonstration against new Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount. (AFP/Musa Al Shaer)

Police have arrested in the past week 72 Palestinians who were allegedly involved in violent protests against Israel last month, as tensions surrounding Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound soared.

Law enforcement officials said 43 of those arrested have been charged so far.

Police said the suspects had engaged in violent acts such as throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and glass bottles at officers as well as shooting fireworks at them.

Officials said they had since gathered information on the suspects, and in the past week carried out two major arrest operations, in which the 72 suspects were taken in for questioning.

“Anyone involved, directly or indirectly, in violent riots, will be arrested and prosecuted,” Jerusalem Police Chief Yoram Halevi said.

Jerusalem saw weeks of high tensions and demonstrations last month. In a July 14 terror attack, three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers using weapons smuggled into the Temple Mount.

After Israel installed metal detectors and cameras in response to the attack, Muslim worshipers refused to enter the site until the security measures were removed, while protesters staged near-daily protests in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, some of which turned violent. Five Palestinians were killed. A Palestinian terrorist murdered three members of the Salomon family in their home in the Halamish settlement.

The crisis was contained when Israeli authorities removed the newly installed measures amid heavy pressure from Jordan, the custodian of religious affairs at the Temple Mount, and the Palestinians.

The site is revered by Jews as the home of two destroyed biblical Temples, and is the holiest site in Judaism. Known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), it is the third-holiest site of Islam and houses the Dome of the Rock shrine and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

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