Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israeli actions on the Temple Mount “barbaric and despicable” on Thursday, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported.
In a press conference before departing for Turkmenistan, Erdogan, a perpetual critic of Israel and avowed supporter of Hamas, added that “Israel is preparing the ground for the failure of interreligious and interethnic dialogue around the world.
“Israel has already been isolated in the Middle East, but if such actions continue, Israel will also become marginalized at the world level,” he continued. “The occupation of al-Aqsa is not only a concern of Palestinians or Arabs, but of the whole Muslim world.”
Erdogan told Anadolu that “Israel’s barbaric behavior will leave it alone in the world.”
Erdogan was apparently referring in part to Wednesday morning’s clashes between masked Muslims and Israeli security forces in the compound.
Channel 10 reported demonstrators were throwing stones and firecrackers towards police, prompting them to use riot-control measures to disperse the aggressors.
Israel Police told Ynet that young Palestinians had barricaded themselves within the holy complex Tuesday night, armed with rocks, firecrackers and Molotov cocktails. Police further said that the aggressors had set up blocks to prevent the closing of the site, and constructed hideouts within the mosque, indicating that the violent acts were premeditated.
As the Mughrabi Gate leading to the Temple Mount was opened to allow a group of Jewish activists entry to the site, masked men began flinging rocks and aiming firecrackers at police forces. According to the report, one Palestinian and a number of Israeli police officers were injured in the clashes.
According to the Turkish news agency, a Palestinian guard in the complex said Israeli security forces stormed into the compound and began randomly shooting towards worshipers, though the claims conflicted with Israel Police reports.
In recent weeks, the Temple Mount complex has been the center of clashes and unrest between Muslims, Jewish activists and Israeli security forces.
Last week, Yehudah Glick, a Temple Mount Jewish rights activist, was shot by a Palestinian gunman in a drive-by attack. Following the attempted assassination, Israel sporadically closed the complex over the next week.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the decision to close the compound to Muslim worshipers crossed a red line, calling it “an act of war.”
On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on all Muslims to protect the al-Aqsa Mosque, saying Jerusalem could not be “monopolized by a single religion,” Anadolu reported.
The Temple Mount, holy to both Jewish and Muslim worshipers, is a center of political and religious tension in the capital.
According to the controversial status quo set up in 1967 between the Israeli government and the Waqf, the Muslim organization overseeing the site, Muslims are permitted to pray on the Mount, while Jewish worshipers are limited to the Western Wall.