Dozens of masked Palestinian protesters hurled stones, Molotov cocktails, and firecrackers at police officers near the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday morning, before being pushed back into the Al-Aqsa mosque by security forces who were rushed to the area.
Five policemen were injured during the riots, and 12 protesters were arrested.
The rioting took place as thousands of Jews gathered nearby for prayers at the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar, a day of mourning that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Jewish temples. According to tradition, both temples were destroyed, the first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second by the Romans in 70 CE, on Tisha B’Av.
Police increased their presence at the site and around the city, hours after a motorcycle rider shot and seriously injured a soldier in East Jerusalem, and after, in an unrelated incident, an excavator driver rammed a bus in the capital and killed a pedestrian, police said.
The shooting took place on Hanadiv Street, which separates the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz from the Hebrew University. The soldier, 20, was rushed to the nearby Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where he was listed in serious condition.
Security forces chased the gunman, who had reportedly escaped into Wadi al-Joz. A security guard opened fire on him, police said.
The driver of the excavator, who carried out the attack on the city’s Shmuel Hanavi Street, was identified as 23-year-old Muhammed Naif el-Ja’abis. He was shot dead by police who ran to the scene.
Ja’abis was a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. The family of Ja’abis argued that the suspected attack was actually a car accident, and that Ja’abis was shot by police in cold blood. Security officials asserted that the excavator driver’s assault may have been a revenge attack, as the man’s cousin had had his house in East Jerusalem demolished two weeks ago.
Ja’abis is known to police from a previous, unspecified, security-related matter, Channel 2 reported.