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Riots Erupt on Temple Mount, Leaving at Least 19 Arabs Dead


The worst rioting in years erupted Monday in the Temple Mount area of the Old City, leaving at least 19 Arabs dead and well over 100 people wounded, including Jews worshiping at the Western Wall.

Police said at least 3,000 Arabs participated in the riots, which followed several days of mounting unrest and tension in and around Jerusalem. The violence was described as the worst since Israel captured the Old City in 1967.

The rioters let loose a hail of stones on thousands of worshipers reciting Sukkot prayers at the Western Wall. The rioters simultaneously burned down the police station on top of the Temple Mount and attacked a nearby bus station.

The violence in East Jerusalem quickly spread to the administered territories. The Israel Defense Force clamped preventive curfews on Nablus, nearby refugee camps and other locations.

There was trouble as well in Israel proper. Police dispersed demonstrations in Nazareth and at Kafr Kanna.

Israeli officials claimed the Temple Mount outbreak was coordinated and planned well in advance.

But Arab sources insisted it was a spontaneous reaction to reports that a messianic Jewish group known as the Temple Mount Faithful planned to enter the area to lay the cornerstone of the "Third Temple."

Several Palestinian groups have reportedly called for retaliation for the killings.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, from its headquarters in Tunis, asked that the United Nations act to force Israel out of the territories.

But more radical groups, particularly those based in Damascus, urged out-and-out retaliation.

Fatah Uprising, a non-PLO group led by Saed (Abu) Musa, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Dr. George Habash, blamed the Israeli government for what they called a massacre.

Fatah Uprising called on Palestinians in the territories "to use what weapons they have" against the Israelis.


The Temple Mount, a site sacred to Jews and Moslems, contains Al Aksa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, two of the holiest shrines of the Islamic faith. To keep the peace, the Israeli authorities have banned Jewish worship there.

No one has denied that the Temple Mount Faithful planned a demonstration Monday. But the Arabs apparently knew about it well in advance and prepared deliberately for a confrontation.

On Sunday, the Supreme Moslem Council was urging Arabs to turn out in force the next day to block Jewish intruders.

Tension in East Jerusalem was further aggravated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s remarks Sunday looking forward to the construction of a new Jewish neighborhood between Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives, an area now predominantly Arab.

According to the police, trouble broke out at 11 a.m. local time Monday when scores of Arab youths on the Temple Mount began hurling rocks at thousands of Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall, forcing them to scramble for shelter.

Border police arrived in force, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse the rioters.

Most of the Arab casualties occurred in that clash. But several reports said some Arabs were gunned down by armed Jewish civilians roaming the alleys of the Old City.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement blaming "Moslem fanatics" for the violence.

The high number of casualties split the Knesset along ideological lines.

Left-wing members urged a thorough investigation. Nawaf Massalha, the Labor Party’s only Arab member, called for a commission of inquiry.

But Geula Cohen of the right-wing Tehiya party demanded that the authorities close the Temple Mount for six months and reopen it on an equal basis for Jews and Moslems.

Gershon Solomon, leader of the Temple Mount Faithful, denied his group provoked the trouble, a position upheld by the Prime Minister’s Office. Solomon maintained that the events of the day only proved his point that Jews should hold sovereignty over the Temple Mount.


In New York, several Jewish organizations issued strong statements deploring the violence on the Temple Mount, particularly the attack on worshipers at the Western Wall.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations expressed "shock and outrage" at what it called the "premeditated and unprovoked attack on innocent Jewish worshipers peacefully assembled in prayer."

Meanwhile, Sukkot festivities in Western Jerusalem, capped by the traditional Sukkot march, created a strong counterpoint to the violence in the Old City, highlighting the deep rift in Jerusalem that the intifada has created.

The rioting climaxed a rapidly deteriorating situation in the Jerusalem region.

Unrest erupted over the weekend in Isawiya, an Arab village on the outskirts of the city between the Hadassah Medical Center on Mount Scopus and the French Hill neighborhood.

Residents of Isawiya hurled stones and empty bottles at police patrols from their roofs Saturday. The police erected dirt roadblocks to close off the village and summoned help.

They were confronted by growing crowds led by the village leader.

When reinforcements arrived, they were attacked with stones and tear gas grenades the villagers had somehow acquired from the IDF Two Arab youths were injured by rubber bullets and five were arrested.

Knesset member Cohen, who lives in French Hill, visited Isawiya later Saturday and suggested that the security forces "remove the village."

A mass demonstration was held near Al Aksa mosque Friday, the Moslem sabbath. Crowds chanted slogans of support for Hussein and for PLO leader Yasir Arafat.

They waved Palestinian flags and burned Israeli and American flags and, for the first time Soviet flags.

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