Trouble at the Temple Mount

Two dozen Arab high school students were arrested yesterday after they threw stones at police during the second day of demonstrations against Jewish prayer services on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Police said that all was quiet today and the students’ call for a mass general strike by East Jerusalem Arabs drew no response.

The demonstrations began peacefully Sunday when about 500 East Jerusalem high school students gathered on the Temple Mount to protest the acquittal by a local magistrate of a group of Betar activists who conducted a prayer service there recently.

The Temple Mount is the site of the Mosque of Omar and the El Aksa Mosque, two of the holiest shrines of Islam. Jewish religious services are, barred there by law in order to avoid provocations. But the members of Betar, a militantly nationalistic youth group, defied the ban and their exoneration by the local court was seen by the Arab youths as an alteration of the status quo.

The government has already appealed the magistrate’s decision to a higher court. Police Minister Shlomo Hillel said last week that police would continue to enforce the ban on Jewish religious rites at the Moslem holy place.

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