Palestinians riot in disputed Jerusalem neighborhood over settler presence

By Dalia Nammari, AP
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Palestinians riot in east Jerusalem neighborhood

JERUSALEM — Palestinian residents in east Jerusalem threw rocks at police and settlers and set cars on fire in an ongoing dispute over a contested neighborhood Thursday.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the early morning clashes in Silwan neighborhood erupted due to a disagreement over a pathway claimed by both Jewish and Arab families. He said an Israeli court ruled in 2000 that the pathway belongs to a Jewish family.

Palestinian residents, however, say the clash erupted after settlers were seen trying to break into a local mosque.

About 50,000 Palestinians and 70 Jewish families live in Silwan and tensions are high in the neighborhood over a municipal plan that includes the slated demolition of Palestinian homes. There have been recent clashes.

The pathway leads to an ancient underground spring that some Jews use as a ritual bath to cleanse themselves before morning prayers.

There is a mosque near the spring’s entrance.

Silwan resident Ahmed Qaraein told The Associated Press that residents saw four settlers trying to enter the mosque compound. He said he yelled at the settlers and they ran to a nearby house.

Palestinian residents then threw rocks at the house and settlers responded with warning shots, Qaraein said.

Rosenfeld denied anyone tried to enter the mosque.

Israel captured and annexed east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel considers the sector part of its capital. That claim is not recognized internationally.

The fate of east Jerusalem figures to play a central role in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks set to resume next week.

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