The Middle East Channel

Israel Partially Reopens Al-Aqsa Mosque

A day after sealing off all access to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli authorities reopened the holy site on Friday, however continued to bar entry to men under the age of 50. As tensions have escalated in the city, Israel has deployed hundreds of security personnel, and security was particularly tight in the ...

JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

A day after sealing off all access to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, Israeli authorities reopened the holy site on Friday, however continued to bar entry to men under the age of 50. As tensions have escalated in the city, Israel has deployed hundreds of security personnel, and security was particularly tight in the Old City and at access points to the mosque. Israel closed off al-Aqsa mosque compound, or Temple Mount, on Thursday after Israeli police killed Moataz Hejazi, a Palestinian man suspected of shooting and wounding U.S. born far-right religious activist Yehuda Glick. The move to prevent access to the holy site was condemned by Palestinians and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the closure was "tantamount to a declaration of war."

Syria

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang said in a briefing Thursday the humanitarian crisis in Syria is worsening and that "The collective punishment inflicted upon civilians is appalling." U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura proposed an "action plan" of implementing local cease-fires, or "incremental freeze zones," to allow for aid deliveries and local mediation efforts. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday acknowledged the Syrian regime is benefiting from U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants in Syria, however he noted the United States is pursuing a long-term strategy in the region. U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials reported over 1,000 foreign fighters travel to Syria each month. They noted that this rate has remained constant, despite coalition airstrikes. 

A day after sealing off all access to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli authorities reopened the holy site on Friday, however continued to bar entry to men under the age of 50. As tensions have escalated in the city, Israel has deployed hundreds of security personnel, and security was particularly tight in the Old City and at access points to the mosque. Israel closed off al-Aqsa mosque compound, or Temple Mount, on Thursday after Israeli police killed Moataz Hejazi, a Palestinian man suspected of shooting and wounding U.S. born far-right religious activist Yehuda Glick. The move to prevent access to the holy site was condemned by Palestinians and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the closure was "tantamount to a declaration of war."

Syria

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang said in a briefing Thursday the humanitarian crisis in Syria is worsening and that "The collective punishment inflicted upon civilians is appalling." U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura proposed an "action plan" of implementing local cease-fires, or "incremental freeze zones," to allow for aid deliveries and local mediation efforts. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday acknowledged the Syrian regime is benefiting from U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants in Syria, however he noted the United States is pursuing a long-term strategy in the region. U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials reported over 1,000 foreign fighters travel to Syria each month. They noted that this rate has remained constant, despite coalition airstrikes. 

Headlines

  • Mass graves have been found in Iraq’s Anbar province holding between 80 and 220 bodies of Sunni tribesmen meanwhile Human Rights Watch said Islamic State militants killed 600 inmates from the Badoosh prison in June.
  • Amnesty International released a report Thursday accusing militias and armed groups in Western Libya of committing "mounting war crimes."
  • Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the center-right Yesh Atid party, said he had vetoed spending for infrastructure projects for West Bank settlements that he said would have "caused an international crisis."

Arguments and Analysis

2014 Midterms: ISIS and the Campaign Trail‘ (William McCants, The Brookings Institution)

"Republicans in Senate races against Democratic incumbents with foreign affairs or armed services committee assignments have seized on public concern about ISIS to link their opponents to Obama’s purported failure to man the wall, allowing the ISIS hordes to march out of Syria into Iraq. New Hampshire Republican candidate Scott Brown implausibly claims ‘radical Islamic terrorists are threatening to cause the collapse of our country’ and accuses ‘President Obama and Senator Shaheen of being confused by the nature of the threat.’ North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis chided Senator Kay Hagan for not taking the ISIS threat seriously, just like President Obama. The proof? She missed an Armed Services Committee meeting on new global threats days after President Obama referred to the Islamic State as a ‘jayvee team.’ Cory Gardner, Republican Senate nominee in Colorado has launched a similar attack against incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall, charging him with missing Armed Service Committee meetings and stating that ISIS ‘does not present an imminent threat to this nation.’"

Sinai’s problems must be handled with great care‘ (H. A. Hellyer, The National)

"Last week’s killing in and near Sinai’s main town of the north, Al Arish, was the bloodiest against the Egyptian military in recent memory.

It was to be expected there would be a response from the state. The question is what sort of response would be both ethical and effective.

A week later, a number of actions require further scrutiny. In recent days, hundreds of houses in Rafah, the border city between Egypt and the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza, have been evacuated. Many of those houses have been demolished.

The strategy is to create a buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, on Egyptian territory, as the suspicion is that the Sinai insurgents have relations with extremist groups in Gaza. Questions must be raised about how this evacuation was achieved. Were all those who were evacuated and relocated content and satisfied with the arrangement? Are they all on board with the strategy?"

Middle East: Walled in‘ (John Reed, Financial Times)

"While the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, in Syria and Iraq is consuming the west’s attention in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is heating up dangerously in and around Jerusalem. The war in the Gaza Strip this summer inflamed tensions and set in motion a renewed dynamic of open confrontation – between the two peoples, and between Israel and the outside world."

Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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