Israel’s defense establishment is considering introducing administrative detention for the ringleaders of ongoing riots on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, after another day of clashes with Israeli police forces at the site.
The Shin Bet security service has identified a group of some 30-50 Arab youths who are driving the riots, Channel 2 television said Monday, and believes that Israel has no choice but to change the way in which it deals with those behind the wave of violence.
Israel has recently begun to use administrative detention, a measure reserved for terror suspects, for Jewish extremists who are thought to be behind attacks on Muslims and Christians.
Renewed violence erupted at the Temple Mount on Monday morning, with Palestinian protesters hurling rocks, firebombs and firecrackers at Israeli police forces. The rioters also barricaded themselves inside the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Mount.
Two Palestinians — one of them a minor — were arrested. One policeman was very lightly injured. Relative calm was restored by the afternoon.
But clashes briefly resumed Monday night, Army Radio said, with young Arab rioters throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police and Border Police forces in the Old City of Jerusalem. The rioters were dispersed by the police and there were no injuries, the radio said.
Israel Police imposed an indefinite ban on male Muslim worshipers under the age of 50 from entering the site after images emerged Sunday night indicating Palestinian protesters were planning for more violence, stockpiling rocks and setting up barricades inside the mosque.
Spokeswoman Luba Samri said police had tried to negotiate with the Waqf — the Islamic religious authority that oversees the Temple Mount — to call for calm, but talks failed and police entered the al-Aqsa compound to seize the “dangerous devices intended to harm visitors to the site and police and endanger their lives.”
Palestinians threw rocks, firebombs and firecrackers at police from within the mosque, Samri said, adding that the firebombs sparked a fire at the entrance to the house of worship, one of the holiest sites in Islam. Waqf guards didn’t prevent the “desecration of the sanctity of the place,” she said.
Officers later managed to restore calm but sporadic Palestinian stone throwing persisted throughout the morning. By noon the site was quiet, police said.
The director of al-Aqsa Mosque, Omar Kiswani, blamed Israeli police for the violence.
“We asked the police yesterday not to allow any non-Muslims in the compound in these tense days but police didn’t respond positively to our demands,” he said, adding that several people had suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Police said 24 Jews and 450 tourists visited the site Monday morning.
It was the second successive day of violence at the site, with further trouble feared in the week ahead as Jews celebrate the Sukkot holiday. Some religious Jews traditionally ascend to the site during the week-long festival that began Sunday evening.