BY EMET REPORT—
Israeli police have mobilized 22,000 officers and border police alongside thousands of soldiers as the country’s forces go on the highest level of preparedness ahead of Palestinian prayers and demonstrations Friday, Sept. 23, in support of their application for UN approval of statehood.
Beefed up police and troops are preparing for the rallies to turn violent and surge out of the Palestinian towns. They are also deployed at mixed population centers of Jews and Arabs up and down the country to avert clashes and concentrated on the Green Line enclosing the West Bank and the approaches to Jerusalem.
In defiance of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ directive for rallies to stay within the limits of Palestinian towns and remain orderly, the PA’s Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud Habbash secretly instructed the imams Thursday to turn up the volume of their loudspeakers at Friday prayers and keep on shouting Allah is Great!
This call coming from Al Aqsa on Temple Mount aims at reaching every Muslim in the West Bank and Israel. Israeli security chiefs are treating this call, characteristic of suicide bombers, as a war cry for stirring up riots.
Violence did break out in and around the East Jerusalem area on Friday when Palestinian youths hurled rocks at security forces in the neighborhood of Ras Al-Amud. So far, fears that massive violence would break out in the lead-up to the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations have not materialized. Although the IDF has no indication that massive violence will erupt, it worries that events in New York – where PA President Mahmoud Abbas will address the UN General Assembly today and formally apply for UN recognition as a state – could inflame tempers.
A group of Palestinians wearing masks threw rocks at Israeli police officers and border guards Friday in East Jerusalem. Police officers gave chase as the rock-throwers fled the scene, apprehending one of them and taking him in for questioning. Residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras Al-Amud reported that two people were wounded in the leg, but police reported that those wounds were caused when at least one of the wounded jumped over a fence and apparently broke his leg from the fall. He was taken away for medical treatment.
Residents of Beit Hanina scuffled with border guards on the scene. Three Arab youths were arrested on suspicion of burning tires and throwing rocks at the security forces. No wounded were reported. Two young Palestinians were arrested soon after on suspicion of forcefully trying to enter the Temple Mount.
Conflict broke out as early as Thursday night in East Jerusalem, when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at Beit Yehonatan in Silwan and rioting broke out in another of locations in the area. IDF soldiers held a 15-year-old resident of the area for questioning over the incidents.
Police Chief Yohanan Danino and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visited the Western Wall police station, in light of the heightened state of security. “The coming hours are the most tense and the police officers are ready for every possible scenario,” Aharonovitch. “The police has not received any special warnings of plans to disturb the peace,” added Aharonovitch. Danino and Aharonovitch then surveyed the Jerusalem area in order to evaluate the readiness of the forces stationed there and to meet officers in the field.
An attack by settlers on Palestinians could also spark wider disturbances, and this possibility is currently one of the IDF’s chief concerns. The Islamist Hamas organization has declared today a “day of rage,” but the IDF believes Hamas lacks the infrastructure to foment widespread disturbances in the West Bank.