Thousands of people attended the funerals overnight Wednesday of the three Arab-Israeli terrorists who carried out a terror attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem two weeks ago, killing two Israeli Druze police officers with weapons they had smuggled onto the holy site.
Some 3,000 people were at the funerals in the northern Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, according to Hebrew media.
The three terrorists, Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29, Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19 and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19 — all relatives — were residents of the city.
The burial processions included cheers and celebratory chants, as attendees vowed to become “martyrs for Al-Aqsa,” in reference to the mosque that sits on the Temple Mount along with the Dome of the Rock sanctuary.
Some flew the Palestinian flag. “Millions of martyrs are marching to Al-Aqsa,” the crowd chanted, in footage shown on Channel 2.
An unnamed member of the Jabarin family praised the attackers, telling Channel 2 they were “shahids” (martyrs), and saying “they received the respect they deserved with a mass funeral the area has not seen before.”
Israeli police held onto the bodies of the terrorists, who were killed by security officers stopping their assault, for almost two weeks since the July 14 attack. On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice ordered that their remains be returned to their families.
Israeli police usually hold onto the bodies of terrorists until the families agree to hold small funerals. In the past, burials of attackers have become launching pads for more violence and parades glorifying their actions.
Following the terror attack, in which officers Kamil Shnaan and Haeil Sitawe were killed, Israel took the rare step of briefly shutting the sensitive holy site and re-opening it two days later with new security measures in place, including metal detectors and cameras. This led to boycotts by worshipers who demanded the security measures be removed and to protests by Palestinians in and around East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Local residents of Umm al-Fahm, who appeared to largely condemn the attack, also said the brief closure of the al-Aqsa mosque was a step too far.
Over the weekend, five Palestinians died in clashes between rioters and Israeli police. On Friday night, a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the homes of a family sitting down for Shabbat dinner in the West Bank settlement of Halamish and stabbed to death three of them.
The metal detectors were removed on Tuesday under intense pressure from the Arab world but the Islamic authority that administers the site urged Muslim worshipers to pray outside the compound.
The Jordanian authority, known as the Waqf, presented Israel with a list of demands Wednesday to end the boycotts and protests including the reopening five gates to the Temple Mount closed in the latest crisis, the removal of five new cameras installed in the Mount area, and the removal of metal railings placed at the entrances.
On Wednesday night, it appeared Israel removed any new installations, meeting those demands.
It was not immediately clear whether Muslim authorities would now give their approval to re-enter the site.
There have been concerns that Friday’s main weekly Muslim prayers — which typically draw thousands to the al-Aqsa mosque — will lead to more clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is revered as the site of the biblical temples. It is also the third-holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina, and is known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif. Under an arrangement in place since Israel captured Jerusalem’s Old City in the Six Day War in 1967 and extended its sovereignty there, non-Muslims are allowed access to the site but are forbidden to pray there. Under this status quo, Israel is responsible for security at the site while the Jordanian trust is in charge of administrative duties.