Tags: jerusalem | tension | mounts | rocks

Jerusalem Tension Mounts With New Effort to Punish Rock-Throwers

Sunday, 02 Nov 2014 09:21 AM

Israel’s cabinet approved a bill that would make it easier to jail stone-throwers for years, as Arab violence swelled over competing claims to a hilltop shrine in Jerusalem’s Old City.

While his cabinet voted today to send the legislation to parliament, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to stop efforts to change 47-year-old rules governing worship on the site known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary.

Unrest has gripped Jerusalem for months, with Arabs who oppose Israel’s control of the eastern sector throwing rocks, firebombs and other objects at police, cars, buses and trains. While a maximum sentence of 20 years is currently on the books, an amendment would make it easier to imprison offenders by eliminating the need to prove intent to harm, assistant Justice Ministry spokeswoman Ornat Cohen said.

The proposed provision would make it possible to charge someone with throwing objects in a manner likely to cause harm, an offense that would be easier to prove and carry a maximum 10- year sentence, she said by phone.

Disturbances have been a daily event since a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem was burned alive in July in suspected retribution for the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish youths in the West Bank. Palestinian leaders have said the violence is a response to Jewish settlement on land Palestinians claim for a state and challenges to the ban on Jewish prayer at the Old City compound.

Muslims revere the hilltop, which houses the silver-capped al-Aqsa Mosque and gold-capped Dome of the Rock, as Islam’s third-holiest site. Jews venerate it as the location of their biblical temple. The Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, is situated at the foot of the mount.

Netanyahu accused “radical Islamists” of falsely claiming Israel is threatening al-Aqsa and of trying to stop Jews from visiting the compound. He appealed to lawmakers to keep violence from escalating.

“We won’t let that happen,” Netanyahu told the cabinet, in remarks broadcast on Israel radio, saying he assured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Muslim rights would be protected. “We are committed to preserving the status quo.”

Israel wrested control of the shrine from Jordan during the 1967 Mideast war and allowed it to be administered by a Muslim trust known as the Waqf. While Jewish prayer at the complex was declared off-limits shortly after the war, more Jews have been questioning the ruling, seeking legislation to overturn the ban.

Israeli authorities briefly closed the site last week for the first time since 2000 after an activist seeking expanded Jewish access to the site was shot and seriously wounded. His suspected Palestinian assailant was killed in a gun-battle with police.

Abbas said in a published statement that Netanyahu’s effort to calm the situations was “a step in the right direction.” He warned that the “provocations of extremists will lead to grave results and reverberate throughout the entire region.”


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Israel's cabinet approved a bill that would make it easier to jail stone-throwers for years, as Arab violence swelled over competing claims to a hilltop shrine in Jerusalem's Old City.While his cabinet voted today to send the legislation to parliament, Prime Minister...
jerusalem, tension, mounts, rocks
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2014-21-02
Sunday, 02 Nov 2014 09:21 AM
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