16 March, 2010 — IPS
SILWAN, EAST JERUSALEM, Mar 16, 2010 (IPS) – Three thousand heavily armed Israeli security service forces locked down large parts of the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday, as battalions of police fired rounds of tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian protesters in the occupied eastern part of the city. Nearly 40 Palestinians were wounded and treated at nearby hospitals, as 25 were arrested during intense clashes.
Protests were aimed at the Netanyahu administration’s announcement of expanded illegal settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the five-day closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and Palestinian institutions within the Old City. Fundamentalist settler groups held an opening ceremony for a synagogue constructed against the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which was seen as a provocation to the Palestinian community in the area.
Clashes took place in several areas of East Jerusalem, including Shu’afat refugee camp, Wadi Joz and Silwan. This comes on the heels of accelerated attacks by Israeli forces and Jewish settlers inside Silwan in particular, directed towards the community’s youngest and most vulnerable population. Since January, at least 33 children from the area have been arrested, detained and interrogated by Israeli forces as home demolitions and settler takeovers continue apace.