Palestinians vow uprising if site 'defiled'

More than 10,000 Palestinians have demonstrated and warned of a third uprising if rightist Jews hoping to derail plans for a Gaza withdrawal try to enter a sensitive Jerusalem site on Sunday.

    Radical Jews plan to enter the Noble Sanctuary on Sunday

    Israeli police have increased their presence in Jerusalem and have said they would bar Jewish activists from carrying out plans to enter the site revered by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and by Jews as the Temple Mount. 

    Israel's Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra told Israel Radio he feared Jewish activists would seek to provoke tensions at the site to stop the disengagement, Israel's plan to remove Jewish settlers from Gaza in July. 

    More than 10,000 Palestinian demonstrators, some hoisting a
    large model of the shrine, held three protests in the West Bank town of Ram Allah and the Gaza Strip on Saturday. 

    "If the Zionists defile al-Aqsa mosque, they will be planting the seeds of the third uprising," a senior Hamas resistance leader, Nizar Rayyan, said in Gaza. 

    Abandoning the truce

    Resistance fighters had threatened on Friday to abandon a de-facto three-month-old truce in a four and a half year uprising against Israel if the Jewish activists tried to enter the shrine, the site of the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest site. 

    "If the Zionists defile al-Aqsa mosque, they will be planting the seeds of the third uprising"

    Nizar Rayyan,
    Hamas leader

    Violence in the region has declined drastically since Mahmud Abbas succeeded Yasir Arafat as Palestinian president in January and he and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called a ceasefire at an 8 February summit in Egypt.

    But a provocation at the shrine could inflame Muslims worldwide and jeopardise US-backed efforts to revive Middle
    East peace talks. Sunday's Jewish rally is planned for the eve
    of Sharon's meeting in Texas with President George Bush. 

    Palestinians launched their uprising in 2000 after Sharon, then Israel's opposition leader, toured the Jerusalem shrine compound. 

    Police have barred visits by non-Muslims and specifically by
    the far-right Jewish group Revava to the shrine and took up
    positions on Saturday to enforce it.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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