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Security forces on high alert in Jerusalem ahead of Friday prayers

Police spread out in East Jerusalem and the Old City to prevent riots, limit entry to Temple Mount compound

Illustrative photo of Border Police on Jaffa Road, near Jerusalem's Old City, October 23, 2014 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Border Police on Jaffa Road, near Jerusalem's Old City, October 23, 2014 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Security forces were spreading out throughout East Jerusalem as well as the Old City Friday morning ahead of what was expected to be a volatile day, following a week of Arab rioting and violence in the capital.

Police said they would limit entry to the Temple Mount compound to males 40 and up and women of any age, after receiving information that Arab youths intended to foment unrest in the area after the conclusion of Friday prayers. Police officials warned they would show “zero tolerance” for unruly behavior.

The forces included police, Border Police and several special units. Medical teams would also be on high alert throughout the city, officials said.

Tensions flared in the capital Thursday in the wake of a Wednesday terrorist attack on a Jerusalem Light Rail station in which three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun was killed and eight others were injured.

Chaya Zissel Braun (Channel 2 Screenshot)
Chaya Zissel Braun (Channel 2 Screenshot)

Jerusalem’s mayor called for a crackdown against the wave of Palestinian unrest. In an interview, Mayor Nir Barkat said the violence had become intolerable, and he vowed to restore order.

“Yesterday what we saw is another elevated level, of people running over a 3-month-old baby,” he told The Associated Press. “We must fight violence and we will win that war.”

Police on Thursday dispersed a crowd of rioters who were throwing stones at the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz. No injuries were reported but the stones caused damage to a vehicle, according to the Ynet news site.

Right-wing activists carrying signs reading "Revenge" and "Death to Terrorists" protest at the site where a young Palestinian man rammed his car into pedestrians waiting for the light rail in Jerusalem, October 23, 2014 (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Right-wing activists carrying signs reading “Revenge” and “Death to terrorists” protest at the site where a young Palestinian man rammed his car into pedestrians waiting for the light rail in Jerusalem, October 23, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A police undercover unit arrested two Palestinian teenagers in Shuafat Thursday evening for throwing stones at the city’s light rail. Meanwhile, right-wing activists held a rally near the scene of Wednesday’s attack, with several holding placards calling for “Revenge” and “Death to terrorists.”

Earlier, a Palestinian woman was pelted with stones in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Police forces were searching the area for the perpetrators of the attack.

Chaya Zisel Braun (Channel 2 Screenshot)
Chaya Zissel Braun (Channel 2, screenshot)

A medical team that arrived at the scene treated the woman for minor injuries.

In a separate incident, the words “Death to Arabs” and “Die, Arabs” were found spray-painted in a public park in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, the NRG news site reported.

Early Thursday morning, a Jewish kindergarten in the Ma’ale Hazeitim neighborhood on the Mount of Olives, near Ras al-Amoud in East Jerusalem, was pelted with rocks. No casualties were reported in the incident.

Police were searching for the perpetrators, who fled the scene.

Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem. July 3, 2014. (photo credit: Sliman Khader/FLASH90)
Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem, July 3, 2014. (photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)

In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, masked Palestinian protesters hurled stones at Jewish pedestrians on a street in nearby East Talpiot. No injuries or damage were reported.

Palestinians also threw stones at two buses near Gethsemane, east of the Old City, lightly injuring one man.

Earlier, police arrested a Palestinian man at a West Bank checkpoint near the southern entrance to Jerusalem after the man allegedly assaulted a security guard at the site, Israel Radio reported.

Meanwhile, the US State Department announced Thursday that US government personnel have been restricted from using Jerusalem Light Rail stations in parts of East Jerusalem for a month, citing security concerns.

US citizens were also warned against entering East Jerusalem neighborhoods that have been the scene of demonstrations and violent clashes since Wednesday night. “The current dynamic security environment underscores the importance of situational awareness, especially in crowded public places that may have minimal overt police presence,” the statement said.

Wednesday’s train station attack was carried out by Silwan resident Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi. He attempted to flee the scene of the attack on foot and was shot by police, a police spokesperson said. Al-Shaludi later died of his wounds in hospital.

Hours after the attack, Arab residents of the capital hurled rocks at a train station in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, causing damage to two train carriages at the site.

Police and Border Police forces were showered with stones overnight Wednesday and throughout Thursday morning in the East Jerusalem village of Issawiya, near the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus. No casualties were reported in the attacks.

The latest escalation in violence was set off by the July kidnapping and killing of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir by three Jewish terrorists in retaliation for the kidnapping and killing of yeshiva students Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrach by Hamas-linked Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. The incidents, among other factors, sparked a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Adiv Sterman, JTA and AFP contributed to this report.

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