Temple Mount reopens after rioting forces closure

MK Zoabi is barred from site, as are supporters of Yehudah Glick; four arrested in East Jerusalem, including of a Waqf guard who allegedly threatened officers

Israeli border police in the Old City of Jerusalem (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli border police in the Old City of Jerusalem (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Temple Mount reopened to visitors following morning riots Wednesday that spread to other parts of East Jerusalem and resulted in four arrests, including that of a Waqf security guard.

The Waqf is the Jordanian organization that administers the Temple Mount compound, which is the holiest site to Jews and contains Islam’s third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The security guard allegedly threatened officers, according to Israeli news outlet Ynet.

Meanwhile, three young Palestinian men and a minor were arrested for stone-throwing elsewhere in East Jerusalem.

After the compound reopened to visitors, about 100 Jews and 200 tourists entered, according to Israel Radio.

The compound had been briefly closed to visitors after Palestinians at the site threw rocks and set off fireworks at security forces near the gate used by non-Muslims to enter.

Police countered the masked rioters near the Mughrabi Gate with crowd dispersal methods including stun grenades, a police spokesman told The Times of Israel.

Israel Radio reported that police chased the rioters into the al-Aqsa Mosque. Police took the rare measure of entering several meters into the mosque, where they saw a stash of stones, bottles, and Molotov cocktails that the demonstrators had prepared.

The Arab Israeli Balad party issued a statement condemning police for “playing with fire” by taking the “provocative” and “disproportionate” step of entering the mosque, further charging that they caused damage to holy books.

Dozens of Jews who had tried to visit the Temple Mount compound in protest over the shooting of activist Yehudah Glick last week were barred from entering while the disruption was in progress.

According to a Palestinian doctor at the site, two rioters were seriously hurt by rubber bullets fired by police, Haaretz reported. One was struck in the head and the other in the eye.

The site was later reopened to all visitors, police said.

Balad MK Hanin Zoabi also tried to enter the site Wednesday along with a delegation from the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, but was refused access.

The clashes come a day after the Fatah movement called on Palestinians to keep Jews from visiting the contested site.

The Fatah movement posted a notice on its official Facebook page Tuesday titled “call to arms” and directed at “all Jerusalem residents and Arab Israelis.” It warned of Jewish plans for a purported “consolidated storming of Al-Aqsa a week after the assassination attempt of the extremist rabbi Yehudah Glick.” The notice included a translation of a Hebrew poster which calls on Jews to flock to the Temple Mount Wednesday morning in a state of ritual purity and with no leather shoes, “for the sake and health of rabbi Yehudah Glick.”

“The terrorist sought to murder Yehudah and halt his blessed and vigorous activities for the return of Israel to the Temple Mount. We will not succumb to terror, we will not let terror win,” the poster declared.

Glick, who is still hospitalized in serious condition, is a leading advocate for Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, which has been forbidden by Israel since it captured the area in the 1967 war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he had no intention of lifting that ban.

Several right-wing Knesset members visited the Temple Mount this week — including Jewish Home deputy Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, who was physically assaulted at the site, and Likud’s Moshe Feiglin and Tzipi Hotoveli — despite appeals from Netanyahu to colleagues to calm tensions surrounding the contested area.

Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely at the Western Wall in  Jerusalem on her way to visit the Temple Mount, November 4, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on her way to visit the Temple Mount, November 4, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Two weeks ago, PA President Mahmoud Abbas notified his Fatah party that he would take international legal action against Israel for its “vicious attack on Al-Aqsa.”

Fatah, as well as Islamic Jihad, has claimed responsibility for the attempt on Glick’s life by Begin Center employee Mu’taz Hijazi. Following his killing by Israeli security forces on October 30, Abbas sent a condolence letter to Hijazi’s family, referring to him as a martyr — a move that prompted bitter criticism from Netanyahu, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and others.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed