Dubbed the TikTok Intifada, a wave of violence began to build in Jerusalem last month when young Arabs began attacking Israelis, targeting the visibly religious, and posting videos of the attacks on the popular app.
The violence spread amidst inaccurate Arab claims that the Israeli government was restricting Muslim access to the Temple Mount when, in fact, Israeli police were enacting measures to manage foot traffic by placing barricades in front of the square leading to the Damascus Gate, a procedure that has been practiced for over a decade. The police responded by removing the barricades. This was seen as an act of surrender and the violence increased.
Israeli forces still denying ambulances access to Damascus gate area, PRCS says. pic.twitter.com/MipqWDtVaU
— Rania Zabaneh (@RZabaneh) May 8, 2021
Ramadan violence and Hamas on the Temple Mount
The violence reached a peak on Friday, the last Muslim sabbath of Ramadan, as 90,000 Muslims ascended the Temple Mount and riots broke out with chants of “Bomb, Bomb Tel Aviv.”
Palestinians chant “bomb bomb Tel Aviv” from Judaism’s holiest site and the site of Al Aqsa mosque.
— Emily Schrader – אמילי שריידר (@emilykschrader) May 8, 2021
Hamas flags were prominently displayed. “We are all Hamas, waiting for your orders commander Mohammed Deif. Hamas — shoot a rocket at Tel Aviv tonight,” they were quoted as chanting by Channel 13 News, referring to the head of the terror movement’s armed wing.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 7, 2021
Dozens of cops ascended to the site and were pelted with stones and fireworks as they used crowd control measures to disperse the riots. At least 205 Arabs and 17 policemen were wounded. Border Police officers closed off Damascus Gate in the Old City in an attempt to regain control of the situation and to prevent more people from joining the riots.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, the Western Wall complex was evacuated as rioters on the Temple Mount threw rocks and launched fireworks at the Jewish worshipers below.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that Israel would be working “to ensure law and order in Jerusalem while maintaining freedom of worship at the holy sites.”
No, this is not a Lag B’Omer event.
Arabs “celebrating” the end of Ramadan in Jerusalem near Damascus Gate.
Rioting, actually. pic.twitter.com/g4OVrPVkNL
— ymedad (@ymedad) May 8, 2021
Shimon the righteous and Jewish-owned houses
The most recent wave of Arab violence has been blamed on an impending case in the Israeli Supreme Court over the ownership of about 200 houses in Jerusalem. The court case and the violence were obliquely connected to the Temple as about 70 of the contested houses were in the neighborhood surrounding the Tomb of Shimon Hatzaddik, a Kohen Gadol (High Priest) during the Second Temple period. The site is popular with Jewish pilgrims and is graphic evidence of the Jewish connection to the area dating back to the third century BCE.
The neighborhood is also known as the Sheikh Jarrah due to an Ottoman physician who was buried there in the 13th century. The current legal dispute is over several houses that were purchased by Jews in the 19th century but were occupied by Arabs who refused to pay rent or exit the residences. The Supreme Court is supposed to announce its decision on Monday, coinciding with Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), the 54th anniversary of the IDF victory in the 1967 Six-Day War which unified Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
The Biblical implications
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the founder of the Temple Institute, fought in the battle to conquer the Temple Mount in 1967. He sees that battle as continuing today.
“With Arabs, it is all one war,” Rabbi Ariel said. “Part of Islam is to make up reasons to fight. In this case, they made up a fake story that the Temple Mount is holy to them. Anyone who knows the history and knows Islam knows that this is not true. Mecca and Medina are holy to them. They simply decided they wanted a war so they made up fairytales that make it seem justified.
“But the war is real and it is entirely focused on the Temple Mount. And the Arabs are willing to die, willing to throw themselves into the battle by going up by the thousands to our Temple Mount. And too many of our leaders are willing to simply run away.
“Judaism is not a religion. We are a nation and this is our land. Too many Jews focus on the religious, the spiritual. Last week, there was a horrible tragedy that came about because one hundred thousand Jews wanted to go to Mount Meron for a religious experience. If all of those Jews had risked their lives for the Temple Mount, or just gone up to the Temple Mount, no Arab would dare claim one inch in our land, the land of Israel. The Jews have abandoned the place of the Shechina (holy presence) to the Arabs, allowing thousands of Arabs to pray there while we crawl around at the bottom of the hill. That is a desecration of the divine presence and the shechina cannot dwell in that level of desecration.
“And whoever has the Temple Mount, they have everything; Gaza, Judea, Samaria, everything. That is why the Six-Day War ended when the Jews conquered the Temple Mount. The Arabs understood that when we had the Temple Mount, we had everything.”
The rabbi cited a verse that was recited when Jews brought Bikurim (first fruits) on the feast of Shavuot.
He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Wherefore I now bring the first fruits of the soil which You, Hashem, have given me.” You shall leave it before Hashem your God and bow low before Hashem your God. Deuteronomy 26:9-10
“The Temple is the source and the reason for us being in the land,” Rabbi Ariel said. “It is no coincidence that the Temple Mount was conquered just before Shavuot and this conflict, focused on the Temple Mount, is coming to a head just before Shavuot. The feasts can only be celebrated in Jerusalem and they are the key to the entire land.”