‘Israel is playing with fire’: Arab League chief warns amid Jerusalem tensions
“The Israeli government is playing with fire and risking a major crisis with the Arab and Islamic world,” Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement cited by Reuters.
“Jerusalem is a red line that Muslims and Arabs cannot allow to be crossed… and what is happening today is an attempt to impose a new reality on the Holy city,” he also said.
He also called on Israel not to deepen the conflict and urged the international community to “oblige the Israeli government to maintain the status quo” as its current policies “hurt the feelings” of all the Muslim world, not only the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, protests continued at the entrances of the Temple Mount Sunday. According to RT correspondent Paula Slier, “thousands” of Muslims worshipers came to pray while a number also later protested the security measures outside Jerusalem’s holy site.
Wearing protective gear, Slier reported on the use of stun grenades by Israeli security forces, who deployed force to break up the demonstration and quell pockets of violence.
“Stun grenades are being thrown to try to disperse the crowd to get further up the street and further away from these entrances to al-Aqsa Mosque,” Slier said. The situation is “extremely volatile,” she said.
“They are not taking any kind of nonsense... a very firm, a very heavy hand by Israel,” Slier said of the Israeli response to the Palestinian rallies.
The United Nations Security Council will meet on Monday to discuss the possible ways out of the violent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Arab League is to hold emergency talks in Cairo on the matter on Wednesday.
Tensions, triggered by a shooting attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 14 , began to escalate as Israel imposed additional security measures, including metal detectors and additional CCTV cameras, outside the al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestinian worshippers have been protesting the move outside the compound.
Meanwhile, the Israeli authorities are not going to remove the controversial metal detectors, citing security reasons.
“They [metal detectors] will remain. The murderers will never tell us how to search the murderers,” Israeli Minister for Regional Development Tzachi Hanegbi told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday, as reported by Reuters.
“If they (Palestinians) do not want to enter the mosque, then let them not enter the mosque.”
However, Israel’s public security minister, Gilad Erdan, called for the measures to be eased for some “regular” worshippers, and to “avoid putting all of these [people] through metal detectors” and focus only on potential trouble-makers.
On Saturday, clashes broke out in Jerusalem during a hundreds-strong protest against the new security measures, staged by Palestinian worshippers. On Friday, three Palestinians were killed during rallies in the city, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas froze all contacts with Israel in light of the dispute. Violence also broke out in the West Bank settlement, where three members of a Jewish family were stabbed by a 20-year-old Palestinian. In retaliation to the attack, Israel sent more troops to the area, while the assailant’s home was ordered to be demolished.
READ MORE: Israel sends more troops to West Bank after deadly stabbing attack