Police clash with Palestinians on Temple Mount in fresh violence
On last day of Eid al-Adha, rocks and firecrackers thrown at security forces; no injuries reported
Palestinians on the Temple Mount hurled rocks and firecrackers at Israeli police Sunday morning, as Muslims closed out the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday and Jews prepared to begin the week-long festival of Sukkot.
There were no reports of injuries at the flashpoint site. Police used riot dispersal means to break up the riot by dozens of masked Palestinians, according to Army Radio.
The police said they had the rioting under control shortly after.
“Masked youths threw stones and shot firecrackers at police and Border Police securing the site,” police said in a statement.
Police were on alert Sunday morning amid reports that extremists had barricaded themselves in the compound overnight, in anticipation of possible clashes.
Sunday marked the last day of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, and the eve of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, when some religious Jews traditionally ascend to the site, considered the holiest in Judaism..
The compound, the third holiest in Islam and home to the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, has seen several altercations between Israeli police and Palestinians in recent weeks, sparking widespread unrest in and around the capital.
Police initially restricted access to some Muslim worshipers, but later eased the order after several days of calm at the holy site.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon instructed police to allow Israeli Muslim worshipers unfettered access to the mount on Sunday, while West Bank Palestinian men under 35 remained banned from the site.
Access for Jewish visitors was forbidden in order to head off any conflict.
Nevertheless, Jewish activists were planning to hold a prayer session outside one of the entrances to the Mount, and later attempt to break through and enter the compound, the Ynet news site reported.
The report said a group of several dozen men from the Muslim Murabitun group were spending the night upon the Mount with the intention of clashing with Jewish visitors should they attempt to enter the site.
The Murabitun were outlawed by Ya’alon along with their female counterparts, the Murabitat, earlier this month after they were accused of attacking non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount and fomenting violent altercations with police.
Recent clashes at the site were triggered by a police raid at the mosque in the run-up to the Jewish new year festival of Rosh Hashanah that turned up pipe bombs, stockpiles of rocks and firecrackers as well as a barricade at an entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Muslims have expressed anger over visits by Jews to the site and fear rules governing the compound will be changed. Under a five-decade-old status quo — established by Israel after it conquered the site in the 1967 Six Day War — Jews are allowed to visit the Temple Mount, but not to pray there.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is committed to maintaining the status quo at the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims.