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B’tselem Faults Israeli Police in Clashes at Temple Mount

October 10, 1996
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An Israeli human rights group has claimed that Israeli police used excessive force to disperse Muslim worshipers during clashes at the Temple Mount in late September.

At a news conference here Wednesday, B’Tselem said Israeli police opened fire with live ammunition and fired rubber bullets at close range — contravening standing orders — to quell the disturbances.

Three Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured in the Sept. 27 clash, which erupted when Palestinian youths began throwing stones after Friday prayers that some 10,000 people attended on the Temple Mount.

Israeli police responded after stones were thrown into the Western Wall plaza, which is located below the Temple Mount.

B’Tselem, which based its claims on testimony from witnesses and on an autopsy performed on one of the victims, said the police also fired into the mosques and prevented ambulances from entering to evacuate the wounded.

Without going into specifics, Israeli police officials questioned B’Tselem’s conclusions. But the officials did confirm that one Palestinian demonstrator had died from police fire.

B’Tselem Director Yizhar Beer urged police to investigate the incident fully.

Meanwhile, a right-wing Jewish umbrella group known as the Campaign for the Struggle for the Land of Israel, issued its own call this week for an inquiry into the events leading up to the three days of clashes last month during which Palestinian police fired on Israeli soldiers.

The organization took issue in particular with the Sept. 26 clash at Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank town of Nablus in which six Israeli soldiers were killed.

The group — whose members include Women in Green, Zo Artzeinu and Victims of Arab Terror — sharply criticized the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords, which they said allowed the arming of the Palestinian security forces.

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