Palestinians barred from Jerusalem's Old City after 2 Israelis killed

Palestinian women shouting slogans during a demonstration in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City yesterday.
Palestinian women shouting slogans during a demonstration in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Israel takes rare, drastic step as tensions mount; warning of risk of Palestinian intifada or uprising

JERUSALEM • Israel took the rare and drastic step of barring Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City yesterday as tensions mounted following attacks that killed two Israelis and wounded a child.

The restrictions will be in place for two days, with only Israelis, tourists, residents of the area, business owners and students allowed, police said.

Worship at the sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound will be limited to men aged 50 and above.

There will be no age restrictions on women, and worshippers will be allowed to enter only through one specific gate.

There have been fears that the sporadic violence could spin out of control, with some warning of the risk of a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

There have been fears that the sporadic violence could spin out of control, with some warning of the risk of a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Last week, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was no longer bound by previous accords with Israel, accusing the Israeli government of violating them.

The Palestinian government denounced "Israeli escalation" after the announcement of the ban, which Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called "unprecedented".

The usually bustling alleyways of the walled Old City were mostly quiet yesterday morning, with stores closed and hundreds of police guarding entrances.

Police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse protesters at one gate, an Agence France-Presse journalist reported. Some 300,000 Palestinians live in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, where the Old City is located.

The weekend attacks came with Israeli forces already on alert after recent clashes at the Al-Aqsa compound and surrounding the Old City, as well as the murder in the West Bank of a Jewish settler couple in front of their young children.

On Saturday night, a Palestinian said to be an Islamist militant killed two Israeli men and wounded a woman and a toddler in a knife-and-gun attack in the Old City. Police shot dead the attacker.

In a separate incident early yesterday, a 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed and wounded a passer-by in west Jerusalem before being shot dead by police while fleeing.

There were clashes elsewhere over the weekend. In the West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli soldiers raided a refugee camp to arrest a Hamas official identified as Qais al-Saadi, Palestinian security sources said.

Clashes broke out, leaving two Palestinians wounded by live ammunition and 16 others by rubber bullets, security and medical sources said.

Three Palestinians were arrested, but not Saadi, according to the Palestinian sources. The Israeli military confirmed two arrests.

In the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya, some 200 masked protesters threw stones at Israeli police, who responded with rubber bullets. The 19-year-old attacker in yesterday morning's stabbing, identified as Fadi Alloun, was from Issawiya.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to return from the United States yesterday and hold consultations with Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon.

His security Cabinet is also to meet today, after the end of the Jewish Sukkot holiday, Israeli media reported.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2015, with the headline 'Palestinians barred from Jerusalem's Old City after 2 Israelis killed'. Print Edition | Subscribe