Last Updated: Tue Feb 21, 2012 13:45 pm (KSA) 10:45 am (GMT)

Israeli army defuses explosive device on border with Egypt; police on high alert at Aqsa compound

Israeli police has been on high alert around the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City over fears of clashes between Muslims and Jews. (File photo)
Israeli police has been on high alert around the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City over fears of clashes between Muslims and Jews. (File photo)

An explosive device was found on Tuesday along the Israeli border with Egypt by Israeli security forces the army said in an e-mailed statement.

The device was discovered after a smuggler was observed throwing a bag containing the device, the statement said. The bomb was defused with no injuries, the army said.

Meanwhile, Israeli police were on high alert around the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday over fears that Jewish and Muslim groups were set to clash at the flashpoint site, a spokeswoman said.

The alert was raised after various Muslim groups posted calls online urging people to head to the compound to “protect” it after a Jewish group of rightwing extremists said they were planning to visit, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

Police were deployed around al-Aqsa and throughout the Old City “following various calls on different Internet sites by terrorist groups calling on people to go protect the compound after calls from the extreme right to come today,” Samri said in a statement.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said 15 vans of riot police were parked by the Dung Gate near the Mughrabi ramp, which runs from the Western Wall plaza up to the walled mosque compound.

On Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse Palestinians who were throwing stones at tourists and police inside the compound, and arrested 13 people.

Police said it was not clear why the disturbances broke out, but Palestinian witnesses told AFP the stone-throwers had been targeting religious Jews who entered the site among a group of Christian tourists.

A similar protest took place last week when a group of Jewish nationalist hardliners tried to visit the site.

The walled compound, which is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), is home to the third holiest site in Islam.

The plaza is also venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount, the site where King Herod’s temple once stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

It is the holiest site in Judaism, but Jews are forbidden to worship there.

Comments »

Post Your Comment »

Social Media »