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Arab League, Turkey slam Israel for latest violence

Criticism comes hours after 3 Israelis killed in a series of terror attacks in Jerusalem and Ra’anana

Raoul Wootliff is the producer and occasional host of the Times of Israel Daily Briefing podcast.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby speaking in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on October 10, 2015. (Photo AFP Photo / Ashraf Shazly)
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby speaking in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on October 10, 2015. (Photo AFP Photo / Ashraf Shazly)

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby on Tuesday called on the international community to provide “protection” to the Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli “terrorism” directed at them.

Elaraby was speaking at an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, convened to discuss “Israeli attacks in Jerusalem and the desecration of the al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Ynet news site reported. Three Israelis were killed in a series of terror attacks by Palestinian assailants Tuesday.

“Israel continues implementing plans to change the status of the Noble Sanctuary [the Muslim term for the Temple Mount] through an unprecedented and fierce attack resulting in dozens of martyrs; it is flagrant challenge to international laws and norms and the will of the international community,” Elaraby said.

Israel has repeatedly denied having any intention of making changes to the status quo, according to which Jews may visit the Temple Mount — the site of the two ancient Jewish temples and of al-Aqsa Mosque, and the holiest site in Judaism — but not pray there.

A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday also blamed Israel for “provocative and arbitrary practices” and accused it of wielding “disproportionate force” against Palestinians, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper.

“We strongly condemn Israeli security forces’ use of disproportionate force in these incidents, which have developed as a result of Israel’s insistence on practices against status quo,” the statement read, referring to attacks against Israelis that have been linked to the Palestinian claims that Israel is trying to change the arrangements at the volatile Temple Mount site.

“The only way to prevent escalation of the tension is Israel abiding by rules of international law in Palestinian territories which it keeps under occupation and, within this framework, it giving an immediate end to provocative and arbitrary practices which target status and holiness of the al-Haram al-Sharif,” the statement added, using the Arabic term for the Temple Mount.

Several Arab states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, last week urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to work to calm tensions and prevent any further escalation of violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The Arab governments expressed concern that a full-blown intifada would lead to a loss of control over the Palestinian street and empower extremist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Tuesday’s statements came hours after a series of terror attacks inside Israel that left three people dead and several more injured, in a major escalation in the ongoing violence.

Hamas called the attacks “acts of heroism,” saying in a statement released Tuesday morning that such assaults should be seen as “a warning to anyone trying to lay their hands on al-Aqsa.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency security cabinet meeting for Tuesday afternoon to discuss new security measures following the attacks.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Culture Minister Miri Regev seen at the scene of a stabbing attack in front of the Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem on October 12, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Culture Minister Miri Regev seen at the scene of a stabbing attack in front of the Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem on October 12, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Speaking at the scene of the of the attack in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood – where two Israelis were killed when two terrorists raided a bus – Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat demanded a complete closure on the West Bank and East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods, saying harsher measures were needed to battle a terror wave that has rocked the capital over the last month.

The Adalah NGO for Arab-Israeli legal rights on Tuesday decried the proposal as “indiscriminate and disproportionate.”

“This step is collective punishment that violates the basic rights of these villages as well as international law,” Adalah said in a statement. “The closure compounds other steps taken by the Israeli government in recent weeks that deepen the oppression that has been ongoing for 48 years and escalates the situation.”

Avi Issacharoff and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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