Ten east Jerusalem residents arrested over violent Temple Mount clashes

Security authorities detained 10 members of a gang of young east Jerusalem residents who allegedly led violent clashes on the Temple Mount in July, according to information released for publication by the Shin Bet  (Israel Security Agency) on Thursday.

The joint investigation by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police concerns violent confrontations that occurred on the Temple Mount on between rioters and police following Friday prayers, leaving four police officers wounded. As a result of the confrontations, the compound was closed for several hours.

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The investigation found that a group of activists purchased fireworks which they later smuggled to the Temple Mount compound in order to attack security forces at the end of Friday prayers.

During their investigation, the Shin Bet and police probes found Ahmed Abu Sbeih to be a key member of the group. A Hamas activist and a resident of Kafr ‘Aqab, Abu Sbeih was released a few months earlier after being sentenced to eight months in prison for his activities in the terrorist organization Shabab al-Aqsa.

Abu Sbeih is the son of Misbah Abu Sbeih of Silwan, who was killed while carrying out a shooting attack at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill light rail stop on October 9, 2016 that left Levanah Malichi and Yosef Kirme dead, and six others wounded.

The investigation found that Abu Sbeih led the violent incident, transferring the funds for the purchase of the fireworks and instructing the recruitment of additional activists to riot on the Temple Mount, as well as to aim the fireworks at the Israeli forces.

Alongside Sbeih, Israeli ID holder Rashid Rashak also allegedly helped orchestrate the event. Rashak is a Hamas operative who served jail time between 2014-2016 for his involvement in a stabbing attack, the Shin Bet said. Rashak allegedly recruited activists and instructed them how to act on the day. In the weeks following the clashes, Rashak also allegedly instigated a similar violent incident on the Temple Mount, but it was unsuccessful, due to the security forces’ preventive activity.

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The pair, alongside eight other east Jerusalem residents face legal proceedings over their involvement in the clashes on July 27, as well as in other violent incidents in east Jerusalem.

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