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Israel detains 6 Jerusalemites, suppress protests as Al-Aqsa prayers continue

July 22, 2017 2:35 P.M. (Updated: July 23, 2017 4:54 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- After a day of violence in the occupied territory left three Palestinian protesters and three Israeli settlers killed, thousands of Palestinian worshipers were suppressed by Israeli forces overnight Friday in occupied East Jerusalem, as clashes continued in the city late into the evening.

Overnight, Israeli police detained at least six additional Palestinians and continued to use live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas on locals during clashes in a number of Palestinian neighborhoods.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had treated some 110 Palestinians in Jerusalem, among a total of over 450 Palestinians who were injured during clashes in the West Bank over the course of Friday. Among them were 23 live fire injuries, 147 rubber-coated steel bullets injuries, 65 fracture injuries due to assaults by Israeli forces, and 215 tear-gas inhalation cases.

Israeli forces had attacked Palestinian demonstrators who turned out in Jerusalem and across the occupied Palestinian territory to perform Friday prayers in solidarity with Jerusalemites, seeking to protect Al-Aqsa from further Israeli control over the compound, which is regarded as the third holiest site in Islam as well as a national symbol for Palestinians.

The security measures were put in place following a deadly shoot-out at Al-Aqsa that left three Palestinian assailants and two Israeli policemen killed on July 14, though Palestinians have long feared that Israel has been attempting to shake up the status quo at the holy site.

The largely non-violent protests were brutally suppressed with tear gas, batons, dogs, rubber-coated bullets, sound bombs, and live fire, devolving into clashes between the heavily armed Israeli soldiers and pockets of locals throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails.

Three Palestinian demonstrators were shot dead -- two by Israeli forces and one reportedly by an Israeli settler. Later Friday night, three Israelis were killed in a stabbing attack by a young Palestinian man who broke into their home in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, in an apparent reaction to Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa, according to a Facebook post.

Electricity was then cut off to a large swath of East Jerusalem on Friday night, though Palestinians continued to gather as close to Al-Aqsa as they could to perform the ishaa, evening prayer, with Israeli forces restricting movement through a network of blockades.

Israeli forces suppressed the thousands of worshipers by throwing stun grenades at them, as the Palestinians attempted to pray peacefully in the streets while being prevented from entering the Old City.

Clashes also continued until late Friday night across Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem including Silwan, Issawiya, al-Tur, an Jabal al-Mukabbir, with Israeli border police using live fire, stun grenades, tear-gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets on Palestinian youth.

The Red Crescent said it set up a field hospital at its ambulances and emergency center in Jerusalem’s al-Suwwana neighborhood to treat light injuries in order to lessen pressure at hospitals in the city.

On-foot medical teams were also deployed across the Old City and its surroundings.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli forces raided hospitals in Jerusalem and Hebron attempting to detain wounded protesters, while Palestinians also hurried to bury the dead, fearing Israeli forces would confiscate their bodies as part of an Israeli policy to hold the remains of slain Palestinians as bargaining chips.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement Saturday morning that in Silwan, Palestinians threw stones and “several” Molotov cocktails at police who dispersed "rioters" and stone-throwers using riot-dispersal means.

In the Abu Tur neighborhood, al-Samri said “a masked young man was spotted throwing a Molotov cocktail at police forces and ran away. No injuries were reported and police is investigating all the details.”

Additionally, she said four Palestinians from the Old City including one minor were detained, each suspected of involvement in the "violent riots," adding that they were taken to al-Qishla police station in the Old City for interrogation.

However, head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Nasser Qaws said that Israeli forces detained at least six Palestinians in the Old City overnight, identified as Muhammad Najib, Alaa Najib, Ubada Najib, Yousif Hazineh, Ibrahim Abu Sneineh, and Hammud Abu Sneineh, for taking part in Friday prayers and the following protests.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli police already detained at least 10 Palestinians in Jerusalem, and 17 others in the occupied West Bank for participating in the demonstrations.

Leading up to the protests, Israeli forces had also detained at least nine Palestinians during Thursday night raids in Jerusalem, including political leaders and prominent activists.

PPS released a statement on Saturday saying an Israeli court in Jerusalem extended the detention of a number of the Jerusalemites and released others under certain conditions.

Israeli authorities extended the detention of the Fatah movement’s Jerusalem secretary Adnan Ghaith, Hatem Abd al-Qadir, Muhamnad Abu al-Hawa, and Suleiman al-Sayad until next Sunday.

Head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners Amjad Abu Asab was released after being banned from entering Al-Aqsa and the Old City for 15 days.

Israeli forces also released Zuheir al-Zaanin and Moussa al-Abbasi, with no conditions being mentioned by PPS.

Israeli forces also released Fadi al-Mtour and Arin al-Zaanin to house arrest on a bail of 1,000 shekels ($280) each.

Madlin Issa from Kafir Qassim was released on the condition of not being allowed to enter the Al-Aqsa compound for 14 days.

After, Palestinian, Israeli, and foreign officials expressed their concerns over Al-Aqsa crisis, the spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement Friday night that he “deeply deplores the death of three Palestinians in clashes” and called for the incidents to be fully investigated.

“The secretary-general is concerned by the unfolding violence in the Old City of Jerusalem. He urges Israeli and Palestinian leaders to refrain from actions that could further escalate the situation and calls on all political, religious and community leaders to help reduce tension.”

The statement concluded with the secretary-general reiterating that “the sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence.”
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