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Silwan residents say settlers provoked clash

Aug. 26, 2010 9:58 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 27, 2010 11:50 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood said settlers attempted to enter the Al-Ein Mosque early Thursday morning, sparking skirmishes that lasted until after sunrise.

Israeli forces arrived as locals said they were attempting to drive the settlers out of the mosque area. Two settler cars were torched, and several windshields smashed in the violence.

The incoming border police force was described as "massive," and said to have been firing tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets toward Palestinians.

Firefighters called to put out the car blazes were reportedly confronted by angered residents in the area, Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported. According to the newspaper, four cars and two motorcycles were set alight.

A 22-year-old settler was said to have been injured, and the paper quoted a settler leader from the area, denying claims that an attempt to gain access to the mosque had caused the clash.

Israeli police said they were looking into the incident.

In the West Bank, three recent incidents of settlers vandalizing mosques have put residents on edge. In December, a Yasuf village mosque was torched and 12 settlers from the Yizhar settlement detained for their role in the incident. Also in the Nablus region, settlers torched a second mosque in May, Al-Lubban Ash-Sharqiya villagers said settlers drove up to the mosque, gathered flammables, and set them alight.

In June, officials from the Islamic Waqf said a recent wave of settlers moving into Jaffa, a Palestinian city now south of Tel Aviv, attempted to set ablaze the Jaffa Mosque as it was undergoing repairs.
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