An Arab member of Knesset warned on Friday evening that “the whole Arab world will rise up as one” against Israel if the government does not remove metal detectors it installed at entrances to the Temple Mount compound following a terror attack there on July 14.
Osama Saadi, of the Joint (Arab) List, said in a Channel 2 interview that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “playing with fire” by maintaining the upgraded security measures that were introduced after last week’s attack, in which three Arab-Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers using guns they had smuggled into the holy site.
Saadi was speaking amid reports that at least three Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces during protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday afternoon.
He was asked why it was that demonstrations elsewhere in the Arab world on Friday had been relatively small scale, and responded that they would grow, and that Israel risked a third intifada uprising, if it didn’t change policy.
His party colleague, Taleb Abu Arar, was quoted later Friday declaring “the third intifada started today.” He blamed “the Israeli government’s cruel policies,” according to Channel 2.
Arab Israeli leaders were set to convene later Friday and were expected to call for strike action and other protests against the Israeli security measures, which they have branded a breach of longstanding understandings regarding the contested site. Israel insists the new measures were necessitated by the terror attack and do not breach the so-called status quo at the Mount. Those who enter the Western Wall plaza below have long been required to pass through metal detectors.
“What is Netanyahu waiting for?” Saadi asked, demanding that the prime minister remove the metal detectors immediately.
Earlier Friday, members of Saadi’s Joint (Arab) List met with leaders of the Islamic Waqf, the Jordanian body that administers the Temple Mount, before marching with protesters through East Jerusalem towards the Old City.
On Salah Al-Din Street, outside the Old City, the MKs were met with a temporary police checkpoint allowing only women and men over 50 to proceed towards the Temple Mount. Police said “an uproar was caused by the arrival of the public figures, who riled up those waiting there.”
Protesters tried to break through the barrier and several threw bottles and stones at officers, police said, adding that they responded with non-lethal riot disposal methods.
Israeli security officials were quoted saying that any bloodshed around the Temple Mount Friday would be the responsibility of the Arab MKs and other religious leaders who participated in the day’s protests. The unnamed officials, quoted by Walla News, accused the MKs of “stirring up” the crowds and escalating tensions.
MK Jamal Zahalka said that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for any disturbances” over his decision to keep metal detectors in place to check worshipers going into the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam.