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14 said arrested in Jerusalem over past 3 days for alleged attack plans, incitement

Clashes continue at flashpoint Damascus Gate for third night, eight Palestinians arrested as Ramadan tensions persist

Israeli border police officers detain a protester during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians next to Damascus Gate, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Monday, April 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Israeli border police officers detain a protester during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians next to Damascus Gate, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Monday, April 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Security forces arrested 14 East Jerusalem residents in the past three days on suspicion of planning attacks or inciting others to carry out attacks, Channel 12 news reported Monday.

The raids come following a spate of terror attacks in recent weeks. Those arrested all confessed to either planning attacks or inciting others to carry out attacks, Channel 12 said.

The report also said that police believe that they can contain clashes at the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City if they continue at the scale of the past two nights.

Despite that, clashes were reported for the third night. Police said eight Palestinians have been detained during clashes at Damascus Gate as Palestinians gather to celebrate Ramadan.

Police said the suspects hurled stones and other items at officers. They added that some of the rioters were also involved in unrest on Sunday night too.

“Whoever chooses to disturb the order, riot, and engage in violence of any kind, harms first and foremost the large public of worshipers, merchants, and visitors, the vast majority of whom wished to celebrate Ramadan in peace and security, while maintaining freedom of worship,” police said in a statement.

“We will not allow those inciting and violent margins [of society] to disrupt order. We call on the public to mark the month of Ramadan legally, obey police instructions, and avoid violence and disturbances of any kind,” the statement added.

Separately, Channel 12 reported that Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas told senior members of his Fatah movement to help prevent any escalation in tensions.

On Saturday, police managed to contain the situation without using riot dispersal measures, while arresting four. One officer was lightly injured after being struck by a bottle.

However, on Sunday, Officers responded far more forcefully, using riot dispersal measures, while carrying out arrests.

Handfuls of rioters hurled glass bottles, rocks, and other objects at a police checkpoint, as was the case on Saturday night.

Israeli border police officers take position during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians next to Damascus Gate, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Monday, April 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Earlier Sunday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid toured the Damascus Gate area with Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and lawmakers from his Yesh Atid party.

The visit was panned by both Palestinians and some of his coalition partners, who said it was inciting violence and provocative.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz took a swipe Lapid on Monday, appearing to call his tour with police chiefs at the flashpoint Damascus Gate a “provocation,” in the latest incident of government infighting.

During an interview with 103FM Radio, Gantz was asked about Lapid’s visit to one of the main Palestinian gathering points in Jerusalem where clashes with police ensued on both of the first two nights of the holy month of Ramadan.

Gantz said he understood the desire of ministers to show backing for Israeli security forces, adding that it is “legitimate” for Lapid to tour the area.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (center), Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 3, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

“Without getting into this specific tour, I say that we should not do things that are provocative, let’s not do things that undermine stability, which is critical during this period,” the defense minister said.

His comments come after Palestinian factions also lambasted Lapid’s visit to the East Jerusalem flashpoint, similarly calling it a provocation.

“The continuing actions of the occupation army, its police provocations, and the incursions of settlers [in the Temple Mount holy site] will lead the situation to explode,” Abbas’s spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeinah said, calling Lapid’s visit “irresponsible.”

Hamas called the tour a “dangerous escalation and provocation.”

Gantz noted that Israeli security forces are acting more cautiously this year, refraining from erecting dividers to prevent gatherings at Damascus Gate, as was done last year, in order to allow for a “holiday atmosphere” as much as possible. He added that the handful of Palestinian rioters who have clashed with Israeli troops over the past couple of days are not representative of the majority that is interested in celebrating the holiday period in peace.

Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from its Jordanian occupiers in 1967, annexed the area and considers it to be part of sovereign Israel. The Palestinians seek the area as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Over the past two weeks, 11 people have been killed in terrorist attacks across Israel in three separate incidents in Beersheba, Hadera, and Bnei Brak. With the onset of Ramadan and the approach of Passover, officials have warned that tensions could continue to escalate.

On Sunday, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned “the Israeli escalation in the Palestinian territories in recent days,” citing in particular recent visits by Jews to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.

 

 

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