By Nir Hasson and Agencies
An uneasy calm returned to Jerusalem on Friday evening after a day of turmoil that saw Palestinians and leftwing protestors clash with security forces across the city.
In East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrakh neighborhood police arrested eight leftwing activists demonstrating against Jewish construction there.
The detentions sparked fury among protesters, some of whom told Haaretz that the arrests were unlawful. Police has discriminated against the 100-odd leftists who took part in the march, at the same time allowing a rightwing counter-demonstration to continue unimpeded, they claimed.
Palestinian sources, meanwhile, reported that at least 15 Palestinians were injured in demonstrations in the West Bank villages of Bil’in, Na’alim and Dir Nizam, according to an Army Radio report.
Earlier in the day, four Palestinians were detained on suspicion of throwing stones and two officers were slightly injured in clashes in Jerusalem’s old city, a police spokesman said. At least one protester was treated by medics.
Israel had on Friday barred Palestinians from crossing from the West Bank into Israel and Jerusalem, and barred men under 50 from al-Aqsa mosque, the flashpoint holy site in the walled Old City.
As hundreds of youths streamed away from noon prayers at a mosque in the district of Ras al-Amud, men hurled stones at a car carrying Orthodox Jewish children. One rock smashed a side window, but there were no obvious injuries, Reuters reported.
Israel’s closure of the West bank, which authorities say is aimed at preventing a repeat of violent clashes last week in which dozens were injured, is set to last until Sunday.
In the Gaza Strip Islamists rallied supporters to protest at Israel’s policies in Jerusalem: “We will redeem al-Aqsa mosque with our souls and our blood,” the crowd chanted.
As demonstrators burned U.S. and Israeli flags, Khalil al-Hayya, a leader of the Hamas movement which rules Gaza, urged Hamas’s rival, West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to reverse his decision to engage in “proximity talks” with Israel through U.S. mediators after a hiatus of 15 months.
“These direct and indirect negotiations provide a cover to the Zionist aggression against our people and our lands,” Hayya told the crowd. “Our angry people now are calling on the Palestinian negotiator to back off from these negotiations which encourage more settlements and the Judaisation of Jerusalem.”
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