Palestinian Guards Beaten by Israeli Police during al-Aqsa March

Published August 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Two Palestinians were injured in a clash with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday as Palestinians gathered to commemorate the 31st anniversary of an arson attack on al-Aqsa mosque. 

The fracas erupted as around 50 Palestinians, led by top official for Jerusalem Faisal Husseini, marched to the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. 

Israeli border police beat two al-Aqsa guards with batons, leaving them bloody and bruised, one of the victims said. 

"They hit us for no reason. They were trying to be provocative and cause a situation," Mohammed Abu Kahtesh told reporters, his bloody face bandaged and shirt spattered and torn. 

The second man, Bassam Abu Libdeh, was receiving treatment in a hospital, Palestinian officials said, without specifying his injuries. 

"The problem is that the police are putting the city in a state of tension. The police are deployed everywhere and act in brutal ways," Husseini told reporters. 

Police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said the scuffle broke out when police tried to inspect a car containing Palestinians at the entry to the mosque esplanade. 

"Guards from the Waqf (Islamic trust) tried to prevent them and a clash broke out during which two of the guards fainted and a policeman was lightly injured in the hand," he told AFP. 

Al-Aqsa was severely damaged on August 21st, 1969 in a blaze set by an Australian Christian who said he had divine instructions to destroy the site, believing it would hasten the return of the messiah. 

The march, also joined by Palestinian communications minister Imad Faluji, is part of a campaign by the Palestinian Authority and Orient House, the Palestine Liberation Organization's headquarters in Jerusalem, "in defense of all Islamic and Christian sites." 

"We are here to commit ourselves to the protection of this place and all Muslim and Christian holy places, we also hope through our unity we will be able to protect the Jewish places as well," Husseini said - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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