Last update - 13:50 16/02/2007
Salah calls for intifada to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque
By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
The head of the northern branch of Israel's Islamic Movement on Friday called for an "intifada" to save the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel Radio reported.
In a fiery speech at his protest tent in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, Sheikh Raed Salah accused Israel of attempting to build the Temple on the Temple Mount while drenched in Arab blood, according to the report.
"Israeli history is drenched in blood," Israel Radio quoted Salah as saying. "They want to build their Temple while our blood is on their clothing, on their doorposts, in their food and in their water."
On Thursday, Salah dismissed a court ruling to extend by another month the order to keep him 150 meters away from the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem because he is accused of organizing demonstrations against Israeli renovations near the Temple Mount, spitting at police officers and calling them murderers, occupiers and cowards.
"They have no right to make decisions on anything connected to the Al-Aqsa Mosque," he said. "I emphasize that I will enter the mosque at any time I think is right."
Temple Mt. prayers end peacefully; scattered clashes in J'lem
Friday prayers at the Temple Mount ended without a recurrence of last week's violent protests against Israeli renovations near the holy site, but several clashes took place between police and Arab youths in East Jerusalem.
Police arrested 10 Arab youths in East Jerusalem, including four suspected of attacking police officers in an attempt to get into the Temple Mount. Police said the others were arrested for participating in riots to protest Israeli renovations near the Temple Mount, including five who threw stones at police near the Old City's Damascus Gate.
Arab youths also threw stones at police in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Police dispersed the demonstration with stun grenades.
Some 6,000 worshipers attended Friday prayers, Israel Radio reported.
Jerusalem police raised the the minimum age of worshipers allowed to enter the Temple Mount compound to 50. No restriction was imposed on female worshipers.
Police had been expecting another outbreak of the violence that erupted last week over a salvage dig near the Mugrabi Gate leading to the Temple Mount, which is meant to precede the replacement of a temporary bridge.
Police raised the alert level across the country Friday in anticipation of possible protests, deploying some 3,000 police officers in East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Turkey announced Thursday that a delegation led by Ankara's ambassador to Israel would visit the site of the Mugrabi ascent in the near future to investigate whether the walkway causes damage to the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Last week, the police forbade men under 45 from entering the compound, but found that many of the worshipers took part in the stone throwing and disturbances. Police considered forbidding men under 65 to enter Temple Mount this week, but ultimately decided against that for the time being.
During the past week, police arrested more than 70 worshipers who had been photographed rioting last Friday. Policemen posted along the Old City gates blocked Arab residents of Jerusalem who are under age 45 and live outside the Old City from entering. Everyone working, studying or residing within the Old City was required to present identity cards before entering.
Muslim separatists in Kashmir protest against Temple Mount dig
Traffic was thin and most streets in Srinagar, summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, were deserted in response to the call by Islamist militants fighting New Delhi's rule in the disputed region.
"We appeal to Kashmiri Muslims to protest against the nefarious designs of Israel," Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, a hardline militant group, said in a statement. Al-Badr, another militant group, backed the call.
Scores of Muslims shouting "Al-Aqsa mosque is crying ... down with Israel" took to streets of Srinagar and burnt Israeli flags.
Israel ups policing at al-Aqsa site
Israeli police have deployed in force on a planned day of Palestinian protest against controversial work near Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque.
To guard against possible unrest, 3,000 policemen and border guards fanned out around Jerusalem's Old City, as Israel tightened restrictions on those attending prayers on Friday.
Mohammed Hussein, the Palestinian mufti, and Raed Salah, the head of Israel's Islamic Movement, have urged people to mobilise against continuing Israeli excavations that Muslims say endanger the al-Aqsa mosque compound site.
Only Muslim men aged over 50 and in possession of Israeli identity cards are being allowed to attend Friday prayers at the mosque, although there are no restrictions on women. Communal Friday prayers are a religious obligation for Muslim men.
Al Jazeera's Barnaby Philips said men who had been prevented from entering the mosque were praying outside on the street and that at least three people had been arrested.
A Jerusalem court has banned Salah from coming within 150m of the Old City walls for two months, after finding him guilty of participating in an illegal demonstration against the work and assaulting a police officer.
Salah vowed to ignore the Israeli court's order.
"I have the right to enter al-Aqsa," Salah told Al Jazeera. "We have the right to protect the al-Aqsa mosque and confront the Israeli occupation.
"I hope that 10,000 of our people will head towards al-Aqsa mosque today [Friday]."
Israel's increased police presence comes after 15 police and at least 20 Palestinians were wounded in clashes at the al-Aqsa compound on a similar day of protest against the Israeli works last Friday.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
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