New reasons, same conflict around Jerusalem

Posted: March 15, 2010 in Israel, Middle East
Tags: , , ,

Al Jazeera online 15 March 2010

Historic Synagogue reopens in Old Jerusalem

The Hurva synagogue was reopened officially on Monday after five years of reconstruction. Israel stepped up security in occupied Jerusalem as Jews gathered for the reopening of what they consider as one of the most important Jewish places of worship.

The synagogue, first built in 1694, was first destroyed in 1721 and then blown to pieces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The walled Old City is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which makes the reopening of the synagogue controversial.

“This is no mere synagogue,” Hatem Abdel Qader, the official in charge of Jerusalem affairs for Fatah, the party led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said.”This synagogue will be a prelude to violence and religious fanaticism and extremism, and this is not limited to Jewish extremists but includes members of the Israeli government.”

Qader and another senior Fatah member had called upon Israeli Arabs to go to al-Aqsa site and protect it from Israel… thousands of police and border guards were deployed across the Old City.

“We are about 350 metres (less than 1/4 mile) from al-Haram al-Sharif (Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa), one of Islam’s holiest sites, and the towering presence of the Hurva synagogue has been called a provocation by Palestinian leaders and religious figures.”

“Considering the risk of trouble, we maintain the state of alert and restrictions on access to the Temple Mount,” Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, said on Monday.

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Israel seals off West Bank
CNN Online March 12, 2010

Jerusalem (CNN) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the army to seal off the West Bank for 48 hours and tightened security around the old city of Jerusalem, Israeli officials said Friday.

The closing of the West Bank follows Israel’s controversial announcement this week that it plans to build 1,600 new apartments on land in Jerusalem claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.

Medical workers and patients, religious workers, teachers, humanitarian workers, and journalists will still be permitted to enter and leave the West Bank, the IDF said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there was extensive deployment of police in largely Arab East Jerusalem in order to prevent the development of riots.

Worshipers younger than 50 and women of any age were not being allowed to attend Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque, one of the city’s holiest sites, Rosenfeld said. Police were stationed at a number of points around the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram-al-Sharif, police said.

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