Israeli police say they will station reinforcements at Moslem holy places in Jerusalem in an unprecedented bid to head off protests on Moslem holidays and anniversaries in the coming week.
Authorities say 3,600 policemen will be on duty in Jerusalem on Thursday. Most of them will be near the two mosques at the Temple Mount, while Moslems hold prayers for "Laylat el-Kadr," traditionally the night the prophet Mohammed received the Koran from God.Police announced the Temple Mount area, the third holiest site in Islam, would be closed to non-Moslems for a week to prevent clashes. They commented that last year's "Laylat el-Kadr" prayers were followed by riots and some leaders had called for protests this year.
The underground leadership of a 5-month-old Palestinian uprising has asked Palestinians to dig in for a long civil disobedience struggle by stockpiling food and water for at least a month.
In a leaflet issued on Wednesday, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-backed leadership singled out certain days for strikes and protests.
Special prayers were called for Friday and Sunday, the 21st anniversary of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Tuesday, May 17, the first day of the three-day Moslem holiday, Id el-Fitr, was slated as a day of mourning for an estimated 179 Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli forces in the uprising, and May 21 was called a day of general strike, study and protest.
The Israeli army forced shops in the West Bank to close on Wednesday after two days of strikes called by the leadership of the uprising.
Palestinians said they were told to keep their stores closed in the morning for two weeks, but the army would not confirm that.
The army continued a drive in the Gaza strip to change the identity cards of 400,000 Palestinians over the age of 16 on Wednesday. The army said more than 4,000 people had received new cards in two days.
In Nablus, in the northern West Bank, 95 Palestinian residents of the village of Kabatiyeh face trial for the lynching in February of a fellow villager, denounced as a collaborator with Israeli authorities.