Israel arrests 3 Turks after ‘incident’ near Temple Mount

Israel arrests 3 Turks after ‘incident’ near Temple Mount

Police spokesman provides few details of what led to incident, but footage shows men wearing red shirts with Turkish flag scuffling with officers in Old City

Illustrative: Israeli police clash with Palestinian protesters near Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on December 22, 2017.(Suliman Khader/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli police clash with Palestinian protesters near Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on December 22, 2017.(Suliman Khader/Flash90)

Israel Police arrested three Turkish tourists near a holy site in Jerusalem after an “incident” following Muslim prayers, a police spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

The Turks had been “involved in an incident in Jerusalem’s Old City after Friday prayers on the Temple Mount,” said Micky Rosenfeld. They had been praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the holy site that also houses the Dome of the Rock.

The spokesman did not provide any additional details. The three are likely to face an Israeli court later on Saturday, Rosenfeld said.

A video circulating on social media shows a number of men wearing red shirts with the Turkish flag, scuffling with police forces in the Old City.

Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu said two of the three men, who hold dual Turkish and Belgium citizenship, were arrested for “assaulting Israeli police and resisting police.”

The third man was accused of “disturbing public order and taking part in an illegal demonstration,” according to Anadolu.

US President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy there has galvanized the Arab and Muslim world. Both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip have called for numerous “Days of Rage” since Trump’s address, and Hamas has called for a new intifada.

In making the announcement, the US president said the move was merely recognition of reality and would not prejudge final status issues.

While the White House speech was followed by violent Palestinian protests in the West Bank and Gaza, the protests subsided considerably after the first week, and Israeli officials believe there is little likelihood of a full-fledged wave of violence developing.

Eleven Palestinians have since been killed in clashes between protesters and Israeli forces in the West Bank, and Gaza. Two of the Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Hamas bases. On Friday, low-level scuffles between Palestinians and Border Police officers were reported in the Old City of Jerusalem as well.

At the forefront of international condemnation of Trump’s announcement has been Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who vowed on December 10 to “not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.”

On Saturday, Several hundred Turks took part in protest in Istanbul, calling on Israel to release two Palestinian minors currently being held by Israel for assaulting soldiers during protests.

Demonstrators in Taksim Square, downtown Istanbul, march on December 23, 2017 with signs in English and Hebrew calling for the release of Palestinian minors Ahed Tamimi and Jawzi al Junidi, held in Israeli prisons. (Nazli Altinok/Times of Israel)

Turkey was one of the first countries to praise a Thursday UN General Assembly resolution decision condemning Trump’s Jerusalem recognition, saying it represented a resounding repudiation of Washington.

The measure passed by a wide margin of 129-8 with 35 abstentions, with most countries paying little heed to the Trump administration’s threats to cut aid to countries that voted for the measure.

Israel dismissed the vote as “preposterous.”

After the vote, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Trump to reverse his decision, after criticizing the US leader for making threats over the resolution.

“We welcome with great pleasure the UN General Assembly’s overwhelming support… We expect the Trump administration to rescind without further delay its unfortunate decision, whose illegality has been clearly established,” Erdogan said on Twitter.

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