Clashes on Temple Mount and in East Jerusalem

Arab youths riot on first Friday of Ramadan; police respond with stun grenades; tension high ahead of murdered Arab teen’s funeral

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Illustrative photo of Border Police entering the Temple Mount to quell a riot. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Border Police entering the Temple Mount to quell a riot. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Clashes broke out midday Friday between Arab youths and police around the Temple Mount complex.

Blasts from stun grenades were heard from the site of the turmoil, as dozens of demonstrators tried to breach a police barrier at an entrance to the compound.

Clashes also broke out in the Ras-al-Amoud neighborhood on the Mount of Olives.

Unrest had been expected on the first Friday of Ramadan, the same day slain Arab teenager, 16-year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir, was scheduled to be buried. Abu Khdeir’s body was found in a Jerusalem forest Wednesday morning in an alleged revenge killing for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered on June 12.

In anticipation of unrest Friday, Border Police in the city had increased their preparedness in Jerusalem, bringing in reinforcements, and limiting access to the Temple Mount to Muslim men 50 years and over, and all women.

The police precautions followed two days of clashes between East Jerusalem residents and Border Police officers as tensions escalated sharply surrounding Israeli calls for revenge against Arabs for the killing of the three teens.

The restrictions came amid efforts to prevent the spread of rioting seen Wednesday and Thursday.

On Thursday afternoon, Arab-Jewish tension in parts of Jerusalem was at fever pitch, three days after the funerals for the three slain Israeli teens and a day after the alleged revenge killing of Abu Khdeir.

In the Shuafat neighborhood, where Abu Khdeir lived, dozens of Arabs blocked roads with dumpsters and hurled rocks for the second day running. Police responded with riot-control munitions.

The autopsy on Abu Khdeir’s body was concluded shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday. The procedure had been postponed for hours while a Palestinian pathologist from Hebron, who was to take part in the autopsy, was held up by the IDF closure of the city, Haaretz reported. Upon arriving at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv, there were complications with the paperwork that pushed the procedure off further.

Arab and Jewish rioters also clashed in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, outside Jerusalem’s Old City, on Thursday afternoon. Arab rioters punctured the tires of several cars parked in the City of David archaeological complex, possibly while their owners were praying at the Western Wall.

Meanwhile, Jewish rioters hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at houses in the Silwan neighborhood, next to the archaeological complex.

Police officials have told The Times of Israel they were investigating two possible motives — that Abu Khdeir was killed in a family honor killing, or that it was a nationalistically motivated slaying. According to officials familiar with the investigation, investigators increasingly view the killing as a revenge attack perpetrated by Jewish terrorists.

Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report.

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