- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 10, 2007

JERUSALEM — Palestinian teenagers threw rocks at Israeli police and attacked a Canadian tourist bus yesterday in a new wave of protests against Israeli construction work near a flash point holy site in Jerusalem.

The violence came a day after police stormed the disputed compound in the Old City, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse Muslims, who rioted after Friday prayers.

Protests against the construction have spread throughout the Muslim world, where demonstrators accused Israel of plotting to harm Islamic shrines.

Israel denies the repair work and accompanying excavations will come anywhere near the compound, known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims.

Sporadic violence continued yesterday as Palestinian teenagers set large garbage containers on fire in the streets of East Jerusalem just outside the Old City and threw rocks at police nearby.

Some of the rocks smashed the windows of cars parked on the side of the road. They also set fire to an Israeli flag. Other small protests broke out inside the Old City, police said.

The police, some on horseback and others in riot gear, responded by firing tear gas to disperse the protesters and arrested 15.

Angry Palestinians also pelted a bus carrying vacationing Canadians on a tour of the Mount of Olives holy site in East Jerusalem.

“We were just driving and all of a sudden a bunch of kids started picking up rocks and whatever they could get their hands on and started throwing it at the bus,” said Dave Wood, one of the tourists. “This is our first day in the Holy City and it was quite disturbing to say the least.”

A police station in East Jerusalem also was stoned, police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. No one was injured in the incidents yesterday, he said.

Police kept a beefed-up force in the city and maintained restrictions at the holy site, barring all Muslim men under the age of 45 from praying there yesterday.

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, dozens of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers, and the soldiers arrested 30 Palestinians, the army said.

In the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, witnesses said. Six protesters were treated for gas inhalation, medical officials said.

On Friday, about 200 riot police streamed into the Temple Mount compound and scuffled with some of the 3,000 Muslim worshippers there. Clouds of tear gas rose into the sky and sharp booms pierced the air.

The compound — a catalyst for earlier rounds of Israel-Palestinian fighting — is home to the golden-capped Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa mosque, and Muslims believe it to be the site where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. It is the third-holiest site in Islam.

Jews venerate the compound as the site of their biblical temples, and one of its outer walls — known as the Western Wall — is the holiest site in Judaism.

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