An Arab sniper shot at and lightly wounded a Jewish guard at the City of David community in eastern Jerusalem overnight Sunday as police are on high alert for violent Arab riots at the Temple Mount and Hevron. Police said six bullets were fired at the guard’s vehicle. The attacker fled on foot, and the guard was treated at Jerusalem's Shaarei Tzedek hospital for leg wounds.
The Arab world continues to beat the drums for violence in the wake of Israel's announcement last week that the Patriarchs Cave in Hevron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are being added to the list of official Jewish heritage sites. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has stressed that the designation does not affect Muslim rights and that they will benefit from planned improvements.
Israel has shared the Cave of the Patriarchs with Muslims since Hevron was restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. During the Jordanian occupation from 1949 to 1967, the monarchy banned Jews, as well as Christians, from visiting holy sites throughout Judea and Samaria as well as in eastern Jerusalem.
Egypt and Jordan have charged Israel with provoking violence, and Jordan’s King Abdullah, meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, called on the Arab world to “protect the holy places of Islam.” Israeli government officials have blamed Arab leaders for incitement, and police fear clashes on Monday in Hevron and Jerusalem.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who recently has tried to project a more fundamentalist Islamic image, prayed at a Hevron mosque on Friday and is to convene his cabinet in the Arab part of the city on Monday. He said the Arab mosque in the Patriarchs Cave is “an inseparable part of Palestinian lands occupied in 1967, as is …Gaza…and eastern Jerusalem.”
Jews in Kiryat Arba-Hevron held a parade to the Patriarchs Cave on Purim, and community spokesman Noam Arnon commented that the Arab rage “proves the struggle is not over land but first and foremost over the identity: of the nation." He said Arab protests are designed to ”deny the connection of Hevron with the world’s first Jew,” Abraham.
In Jerusalem, police are braced for more riots on Monday and are limiting entrance to the Temple Mount to Arab men over the age of 50 and with Israeli identity cards. Women of all ages will be allowed to enter the Temple Mount, where nearly two dozen Arab holed themselves up for more than 24 hours until leaving on Sunday. Rock-throwing protestors injured four policemen.
International media have deployed hundreds of reported in Jerusalem and Hevron, where a writer for the French news agency AFP reported on Purim that Jewish “settlers sang, danced and drank themselves into a stupor, ignoring the growing outrage of the Palestinians.”