by David Bedein
Jerusalem - Throughout the past week, Palestinians used the loudspeaker system in Jerusalem mosques to call on Arab residents of Jerusalem to come en masse to Al-Aksa Mosque in order to protect it from “invading settlers.”
Sheikh Yousef Kardawi, considered to be one of the most important religious figures in the Muslim world, held a large press conference in Cairo. Sheikh Kardawi called on the masses to hold a “day of rage and a day of struggle for Al-Aksa so as to prevent the Jews from seizing control of the mosques.”
The rumor that Israel was going to expel Arabs from the Al-Aksa mosque spread like wildfire.
Jihad Abu Zaned, a resident of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency refugee camp of Shuafat, serves as a memberof the Palestinian Legislative Council on behalf of Fatah. She said: “It’s all only because of el-Aksa. Here, nobody asks or cares about Abu Mazen or Goldstone. El-Aksa is the focal point, just as it was in the previous Intifada. I think that the riots in Jerusalem are going to begin to spread to the West Bank cities.”
The rioting in the capital continued to worsen yesterday against the backdrop of the Palestinian Authority’s statement calling “to prevent Israel from Judaizing Jerusalem.”
The Palestinian Authority cabinet in Ramallah - often described as "moderate" - joined in the calls “to clash with Israel and with its plans, the purpose of which is to thwart every Palestinian effort to establish an independent state.” The Palestinian Authority charged that the background to the rioting was “Jews’ attempts to seize control of the Temple Mount.”
A high-ranking official in Palestinian Authority leader Abbas’s office said that the reason the strongly-worded statement was issued was the Palestinian Authority’s struggle against Hamas, which has been perceived for the time being as being behind the current wave of riots. “The Arab media have been covering the events on the Temple Mount extensively, and this issue has elicited a lot of interest in the Arab world,” said a high-ranking Israeli security official.
Jerusalem District Police Commander Aharon Franko accused Palestinian Arabs of being "ingrates.” “The police allowed numerous Muslim worshippers who arrived at the Temple Mount to hold Ramadan prayers, and everything was done with impeccable order. Now, during the Jewish holidays of [the Hebrew month of] Tishrei, they’re rioting.”
On Tuesday, at around 3:30 in the afternoon, a military police soldier was stabbed in the neck at the Shuafat roadblock. The soldier boarded a bus to conduct a routine security inspection among the passengers who were coming in from the nearby refugee camp. One of the passengers, a 16-year-old boy from the village Anata, stood up in his seat and stabbed the soldier in the neck. The assailant was arrested and was taken in for questioning. Magen David Adom medics treated the soldier and evacuated him in light to moderate condition to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. A witness at the scene, Danny Rotenberg of Magen David Adom Jerusalem said: “The paramedics stabilized the knife so that it shouldn’t move and damage additional blood vessels. The soldier, who was terribly frightened, was evacuated carefully.”
Undercover Agents Reveal: Riots Were Not Spontaneous
Riots in Jerusalem in recent days brought Israeli undercover troops back into action, and they were able to infiltrate the ranks of those planning the riots and to expose their plans. Undercover Border Police in Jerusalem successfully arrested dozens of the most senior rioters in the Ras el-Amud neighborhood near the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Unit combatants, along with another Border Police unit, established as a part of the lessons learned from the October 2000 riots, were able to penetrate the leadership of the rioters and bring about their arrest.
The undercover police in Jerusalem are comprised of experienced and well trained combat troops who are proficient in Arabic. Their job is to assimilate, disguised among the rioters - to tackle the prime inciters and arrest them, sometimes risking their lives.
These units operated in the alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City. They were sent to gather intelligence and were able to document the mounds of rocks prepared by the rioters in advance inside the Al-Aksa Mosque, in several sites on the Temple Mount compound as well as in a few other locations in the Old City with the intent to attack police forces and worshippers at the Western Wall.
“The photos that we took and (what they) revealed left no room for doubt - this is an organized activity being planned by Muslim extremists, led by people of the northern faction of the Islamic Movement,” said a police source, adding that “Luckily, most of the Arab streets in Jerusalem were not swept by the provocations of these inciters.”
PA Seizing Control Of Jerusalem
The General Security Service, Israel’s national security agency, has been warning for a number of months about an expedited process in which the Palestinian Authority has taken control over Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
At issue is their covert use of security forces in Jerusalem. One high-ranking Israeli security official said that the Palestinian Authority’s influence over the Palestinian street in Jerusalem was now more extensive than it was back in the Orient House’s heyday. Israel closed the Palestinian headquarters at the Orient House in August 2001.
A GSS position paper that was submitted to the top Israeli political leadership cited a deepening penetration of the Palestinian Authority into East Jerusalem, resulting in disquiet on the Palestinian street that could ultimately manifest itself in extensive rioting - as has occurred at present.
The most salient sign of the Palestinian Authority’s intervention in Jerusalem is the appointment of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs after he published his plan to establish an independent Palestinian state within two years.
The components of that plan included firm Palestinian control over Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem.
Ever since assuming ministerial responsibility for Jerusalem, Fayyad has channeled millions of dollars out of the Palestinian budget - donation funds-to bolster the Palestinian Authority’s economic infrastructure in Jerusalem. The money has been invested mainly in real estate-buying up property from Palestinian families that wanted to sell and construction in open areas.
Israeli security officials note that in addition to the influx of funds, the Palestinian Authority has also sent in a variety of security forces to operate in Jerusalem. It is now the case that security is enforced in large swathes of Jerusalem by Palestinian Authority forces.
Sheikh Arrested, Released And Expelled
Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was arrested and ordered to stay away from Jerusalem for thirty days. Salah was arrested for alleged incitement and sedition on the basis of the sharp statements about the Temple Mount in recent days.
Sheik Salah was arrested after meetings between the police chief, the state attorney and the commander of the Jerusalem District Police.
Franco said that “In recent weeks and months, we kept track of the suspect’s statements, some of which constituted incitement and insulted Israeli institutions of authority. As far as we’re concerned, he’s suspected of incitement, sedition and insulting state officials, which is against the law. These are based on statements that he made during sermons that he delivered during Friday prayers in mosques in Umm el-Fahm, Wadi Ara and in mosques in Jerusalem. There were also public statements by Sheikh Salah, such as the ones that were documented in the media, that contained enough to commit all three of the crimes for which he was arrested.”
The same officer added, “From the moment we realized that crimes had been committed, we decided to arrest him, even if this was done before the Friday on which, according to the warnings, there were supposed to be severe confrontations between extremists in the Arab sector and police officers in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount.”
September Stats: An Increase In Violence
Is Palestinian terrorism gaining momentum? According to GSS statistics, approximately 95 terror attacks were carried out in the territories, as compared with 53 in August.
The GSS uses the term “terror attack” to describe any incident in which there is harm to people or to property, from stone-throwing to fire-bombing to rocket fire.
According to the report, the increase in terror attacks in the Gaza Strip was particularly prominent, with 45 terror attacks in September as compared with 19 in August. A sharp increase in rocket fire was also noted: during September, particularly in the second half of the month, 17 rockets were fired at Israel, as compared with two rockets in August.
In Judea and Samaria, 38 terror attacks were perpetrated: 12 in the Jerusalem sector, as compared with 32 in the West Bank, and two in Jerusalem during the month of August. Most of the terror attacks - 45 out of 50-consisted in the throwing of firebombs. There were also two shooting attacks, one of them in Jerusalem, and three incidents of stone-throwing or the throwing of other hard objects.
A decrease was actually noted in the number of wounded people. In September, two Israelis were wounded by terrorist activity, as compared with four in August.