Following the conclusion of Friday prayers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, hundreds of Arabs threw stones at security guards in the area. Police charged through the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City and fired stun grenades to disperse the angry mob.
Unconfirmed Palestinian reports suggested that several people were lightly injured.
Police officials, having restored calm, said that they would arrest some of the stone throwers in the coming days.
Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites of Israel Shmuel Rabinovitch expressed shock following Friday’s violent demonstration, assessing that it was meant to prevent Jewish worshippers from praying in the area during Sukkot. He said that it was up to the police to arrest those who “wish to harm the delicate fabric of the holy sites in the Old City, and to harass worshippers.”
Rabbi Rabinovitch called on the public to continue observing the holiday at the Western Wall.
On Thursday, a confrontation at the Temple Mount plaza led to six arrests as a group of Muslim worshipers threatened Jewish visitors to the site.
According to a police spokesperson, about 30 Muslims began chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and tried to attack a group of Jews who were visiting the site. Police broke up the altercation, and arrested five Arabs and one Jew.
Jordanian Information Minister Samih Maaytah condemned the police’s entry to the Temple Mount. He blamed the police for charging at the unarmed worshippers, and said that the police’s policy harms the Muslim and Christian holy places.
The Temple Mount, holy to both Jews and Muslims, is closely monitored in order to defuse potential tensions between Muslim worshipers and Jewish and international visitors.
The plaza is under the management of the Islamic Wakf, with Israeli police responsible for security. Under Israeli rules aimed at keeping the peace at the volatile site, Jews are allowed to visit but not to worship there.