Israeli police arrest 19 Palestinians at Jerusalem holy site

Israeli police officers have arrested several Palestinians for "causing a disturbance" at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site. The men took part in a prayer protest Monday outside a section of the Temple Mount that has been closed by Israeli court order for over a decade. (AP)
Updated 20 February 2019

Israeli police arrest 19 Palestinians at Jerusalem holy site

JERUSALEM: Israeli police say they have arrested 19 Palestinians as clashes broke out at a contested Jerusalem holy site.
Police say dozens of Palestinians participated in a prayer protest Tuesday, attempting to breach a section of the compound that has been closed by Israeli court order for years.
Palestinian medics reported that several protesters were injured in the standoff.
The incident follows a similar scuffle on Monday in which Palestinians tried to break the gate that Israel placed on the closed area last week.
The compound, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the holiest place in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.
Any trace of Israeli security interference in the shrine, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, can ignite violence.

Rocket hits house north of Tel Aviv, Israelis wounded: police, medics

Updated 16 min 18 sec ago

Rocket hits house north of Tel Aviv, Israelis wounded: police, medics

  • Palestinian rockets rarely reach an area at that distance from Gaza
  • Relations between the two states may flare up again after the incident

MISHMERET, Israel: A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in a community north of Tel Aviv and caused it to catch fire on Monday, wounding five Israelis, authorities and medics said.

Israel’s army said the rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas, raising the risk of another escalation between the two sides just ahead of April 9 Israeli elections.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently in Washington, where he is due to meet US President Donald Trump later Monday, and there was no word on whether he would shorten his trip.

The house hit was located in the community of Mishmeret, police said. Medics said they were treating one Israeli with moderate wounds and four others injured lightly.

Mishmeret is more than 80 kilometers from the Gaza Strip and rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave at that distance is rare.

It would be sure to draw an Israeli response and comes after mounting tensions in recent weeks.

Netanyahu is believed by many analysts to want to avoid another war in the Gaza Strip — the fourth since 2008 — with unpredictable results ahead of the elections.

But he faces a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance led by former military chief Benny Gantz and he will come under heavy political pressure to react firmly.

Monday’s incident comes after two rockets were fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv — also rare — on March 14.

No damage or injuries were caused, but Israel responded to that and further rocket fire by hitting what it said were around 100 Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip.

Four Palestinians were reported wounded in those strikes.

Both Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad denied they were behind the March 14 rocket fire toward Tel Aviv, raising the possibility they were launched by fringe groups.

Israel’s military said they were launched by Hamas, but later there were Israeli media reports that the army’s preliminary assessment was that they had been fired by mistake during maintenance work.

The reports were a sign that Israel was seeking to calm tensions. The military had refused to comment on the reports at the time.

Monday’s rocket comes just days ahead of the March 30 one-year anniversary of Palestinian protests and clashes along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel.

An informal truce between Hamas and Israel had led to relative calm along the border of the blockaded strip, but recent weeks have seen another uptick in violence.