Israeli Police Arrest 60 Fearing Al-Aqsa Unrest


Israeli police rounded up 60 "suspects" in Jerusalem overnight and promised more arrests Friday, after what a spokesman said were calls for unrest at the city's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound. 

Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP the detainees were "Arabs", a term that could refer to Palestinians or to Arab citizens of Israel.  

Israeli public radio said that all were residents of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, occupied by the Jewish state in the 1967 Six Day war.

Rosenfeld said the crackdown followed "calls for public disturbances" at Muslim Friday prayers.

"As part of the police preparations based on intelligence, police arrested 60 suspects involved in incitement to violence," he said. 

"Police will continue to make arrests."

An official statement said police numbers in and around the Al Aqsa compound -- in east Jerusalem's walled Old City -- had been beefed up.

The site is the third-holiest in Islam and a focus of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

It is also the location of Judaism's most holy spot and a frequent scene of conflict between the two sides.

Muslim worshippers' access to Al Aqsa and the adjoining Dome of the Rock is controlled by Israeli security forces.

Any Israeli move seen by Palestinians as seeking to increase Israel's presence there is liable to ignite Muslim anger.

There have been scuffles there for the past few days after Israeli authorities padlocked a door, known as the Golden Gate or Gate of Mercy in Arabic, to disused offices.

The offices were closed by an Israeli court order in 2003, police say, but video posted on social media showed Muslim officials praying there last week in defiance of the court ban.

Police said they arrested five people on Monday and 19 on Tuesday over the scuffles.

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