Early Monday morning a group of masked Palestinian rioters hurled stones at police on the Temple Mount as they attempted to blockade the area from Jewish and Christian visitors.
This outburst of violence is the latest in recent riots and unrest perpetrated by Arabs in East Jerusalem over the last month. During that time 430 rioters have been arrested, with another 12 on Sunday night.
The masked Arab youth threw stones and set off fireworks at police forces at the Mughrabi Bridge as the Temple Mount compound opened for visitors Monday morning. The rioters were arrested and detained for involvement in riots in other parts of the city.
The rioters had set up blockades inside both entrances of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to prevent police from gaining entrance. Local police as well as Israel Police Special Patrol Unit officers and Border Guard officers eventually managed to break in and arrest the masked protesters inside the mosque.
Five officers were lightly wounded during the incident and received treatment at the scene. The police said that the situation on the Temple Mount is now under control and it is safe for visitors to ascend.
The violence falls on the eve of the 9th of Av on the Hebrew calendar, a day that Jews mourn the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem. It is a day that Jews pay homage to the site by congregating in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, with walks on and around the Temple Mount.
According to the Temple Mount Institute, last year over 1,000 people were waiting to ascend the Temple Mount on the day of mourning by 7:30 am for a walk that began at 8 am. With the special day looming ahead, the police are making a special effort to prevent any further protests at the site.