14 injured in Israeli attack on Al-Aqsa worshippers

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Israeli security forces fire sound grenades inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019, as clashes broke out during the overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and the Tisha B'av holdiay inside the hisotric compound which is considered the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred for Jews. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)
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Palestinians carry an injured person during clashes with Israeli police at Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Aug 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
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Updated 12 August 2019

14 injured in Israeli attack on Al-Aqsa worshippers

  • The clashes erupted after the Israeli police and government allowed Jewish extremists to visit the site
  • Jews are barred from praying at the compound under a longstanding arrangement between Israel and Muslim authorities

AMMAN: At least 14 Palestinians were injured on Sunday when Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at up to 100,000 worshippers during prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque compound to mark the first day of Eid Al-Adha.

The clashes erupted after the Israeli police and government allowed Jewish extremists to visit the site, after initially barring entry. Jerusalem police commander Doron Yedid said the policy had changed “with the backing of top political officials.”

Jews are barred from praying at the compound under a longstanding arrangement between Israel and Muslim authorities, but in recent years right-wing nationalists have stepped up visits to the site to challenge the arrangement. Jewish extremists have called for the mosque to be destroyed and the biblical Jewish temple to be rebuilt on the site.




Israeli security forces scuffle with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (AFP / Ahmad Gharabli)

Islamic Waqf officials had postponed morning prayers for an hour on Sunday, closed all Jerusalem mosques and called on Muslims to stay on the grounds to prevent the extremists’ incursion.

“This is a clear violation of an understanding that has existed since 1967, and it is aimed at trying to show that Al-Aqsa is not for Muslims by themselves,” Khaleel Assali, a member of the Islamic Waqf council, told Arab News.

Jordan, the custodian of the holy site, blamed Israel for Sunday’s violence and submitted a formal complaint to the Israeli government. “We condemn the continued Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque, and attacks on worshippers and Waqf teams on the ground,” the Foreign Ministry in Amman said. “We hold the Israeli government responsible.”

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of the PASSIA think tank in Jerusalem and a member of the Waqf council, told Arab News the decision to delay the prayer time and to call people to Al-Aqsa was wise.

“Jerusalemites sent a strong message that has defeated attempts at storming the mosque, but the blind military machine injured youth, women, and children in order to try and enforce its dominion on Al-Aqsa,” he said.

“The people of Jerusalem defeated similar attempts in 1928, 1969, 2017 and now in 2019.”

Nasser Laham, editor of the independent Palestinian website Maan News, told Arab News the Israeli media was exaggerating and contributing to the violence. “A quick look at their headlines and you can see them full of lies, incitement, and violence,” he said.

Jamal Dajani, former head of the Palestinian prime minister’s media office, said the actions of the Israeli government were intentional. “Netanyahu is deliberately allowing extremist colonial settlers to antagonize Palestinian worshippers during Eid in order to provoke clashes and have a pretext to take control of Al-Aqsa, just as was done with Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron,” he said on Twitter.


Russian forces deploy at Syrian border under new accord

Updated 43 min 9 sec ago

Russian forces deploy at Syrian border under new accord

  • Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached an agreement Tuesday that would transform the map of northeast Syria, installing their forces along the border
  • The Kurdish fighters were given a deadline of next Tuesday evening to pull back from border areas they have not already left

AKCAKALE, Turkey: Russian military police began patrols on part of the Syrian border Wednesday, quickly moving to implement an accord with Turkey that divvies up control of northeastern Syria. The Kremlin told Kurdish fighters to pull back from the entire frontier or else face being “steamrolled” by Turkish forces.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan echoed those warnings, saying his military would resume its offensive against Kurdish fighters if the new arrangements are not carried out.
Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached an agreement Tuesday that would transform the map of northeast Syria, installing their forces along the border and filling the void left by the abrupt withdrawal of American troops. The Kurdish fighters, who once relied on the US forces as protection from Turkey, were given a deadline of next Tuesday evening to pull back from border areas they have not already left.
Iraq, meanwhile, closed the door on the US military’s attempt to keep the troops leaving Syria on its soil. Iraqi Defense Minister Najah Al-Shammari told The Associated Press that those troops were only “transiting” Iraq and would leave within four weeks, heading either to Kuwait, Qatar or the United States.
Al-Shammari spoke after meeting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who earlier this week had said the American forces from Syria would remain in Iraq to fight Daesh. Iraqi’s military quickly said they did not have permission to do so.
The clumsy reversal underscored the blow to US influence on the ground in the wake of President Donald Trump’s order for US troops to leave Syria. Those forces were allied to the Kurdish-led fighters for five years in the long and bloody campaign that brought down Daesh in Syria.
Now a significant swath of the territory they captured is being handed over to US rivals, and the Kurds have been stung at being abandoned by their allies to face the Turkish invasion launched on Oct. 9.
The Kremlin pointedly referred to that abandonment as it told the Kurds to abide by the Russian-Turkish accord.
“The United States was the closest ally of the Kurds during the last few years, and in the end the US ditched the Kurds and effectively betrayed them,” leaving them to fight the Turks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian newswires.
“It’s quite obvious that if the Kurdish units don’t withdraw with their weapons then Syrian border guards and Russian military police will have to step back. And the remaining Kurdish units will be steamrolled by the Turkish army,” he said.
Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters terrorists because of their links to Kurdish insurgents in Turkey. It has demanded they retreat from the entire border region, creating a “safe zone” where Turkey could also settle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil.
Ankara would gain that goal under the new accord with Moscow along with the agreement last week with the US that put a cease-fire in place.
Kurdish forces completed withdrawing on Tuesday from a stretch of territory 120 kilometers (75 miles) wide along the border and 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep between the towns of Ras Al-Ayn and Tal Abyad. That pullback, allowing Turkish-backed forces to take over, was required under the US-Turkish accord.
The new agreement with Russia allows Turkey to keep sole control over that area. For the rest of the northeastern border, Russian and Syrian government forces will move in to ensure the Kurdish fighters leave. Then after the deadline runs out Tuesday, Turkish and Russian forces will jointly patrol a strip 10-kilometers (6 miles) deep along the border.
The Russian Defense Ministry said a convoy of military police had crossed the Euphrates River and deployed in the Syrian border town of Kobani.
“The military police will help protect the population, maintain order, patrol the designated areas and assist in the withdrawal of Kurdish units and their weapons 30 kilometers away from the border,” it said.
The Turkish military said it would not resume its offensive “at this stage” after the US-brokered cease-fire expired Tuesday night. However, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu said that Turkish forces would “neutralize” any Syrian Kurdish fighters they come across in areas that Turkey now controls.
President Erdogan said the attack would start again if the Kurdish pullback does not take place.
“Whether its our agreement with the United States or with Russia, if the promises given are not carried out, there will be no change concerning the steps we need to take,” he told journalists, according to the newspaper Hurriyet.
Erdogan said he had also asked Putin what would happen if the Syrian Kurdish fighters donned Syrian army uniforms and remained in the border area. Putin responded by saying that he would not let that happen, Erdogan said.
Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said the deal with Russia would continue until a lasting political solution for Syria is reached. He also said that Turkey agreed not to conduct joint patrols in the city of Qamishli at the eastern end of the border, because of Russian concerns they could lead to a confrontation between Turkish troops and Syrian government forces in the area.