Violent clashes between Muslims and Israeli Police erupted on the Temple Mount on Sunday, as Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and stones were thrown at Police and Jewish visitors to the site.
The violence broke out amid a Jewish day of mourning and fasting for the destruction of both Jewish Holy Temples, which stood on the Temple Mount. Tens of thousands of Jews gathered at the Western Wall to mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples.
The rioters made creative use of umbrellas that were set up to provide shade on the Temple Mount for Ramadan worshipers. The umbrellas were used to set up barricades inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque to allow for cover for the rioters against Police engagement.
Four Israeli Border Police officers were injured as a result of being hit by stones and unidentified chemicals fired from within the Al-Aqsa Mosque by Palestinian rioters.
“The police were attacked immediately upon entering the Temple Mount compound by Palestinians armed with rocks, firebombs, fireworks and metal pipes,” explained Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. “Using non-lethal means, officers pushed the assailants into Al-Aqsa Mosque – without entering it themselves – to secure the area, and to ensure visiting hours could take place without further incident.”
Police Footage of Temple Mount Riots
Two of the injured officers were evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital while the other two were treated at the scene. Palestinian sources say that some of the rioters suffered wounds from being hit with rubber bullets while others from exposure to gas grenades that were fired at them by security forces.
While the Temple Mount was closed for a short period during the riots, it was soon reopened to Jewish visitors. However, the Jews were accosted verbally by Arabs on the Mount as is usual, with chants of “Jewish Pigs” and similar racial slurs.
By 11 am, over 850 visitors had arrived to pay their respects to the holy site.
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) said that the situation on the Temple Mount cannot continue. She blamed Police incompetence in dealing with the Arab rioters on the Temple Mount as the cause for the continued clashes. She further called upon Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to instruct the police to allow all Jews to enter the Temple Mount according to the status quo.
“The Temple Mount is a holy place for Jews and Muslims. The government must make sure that Jews can go on the Temple Mount throughout the entire year, certainly on Tisha B’Av,” Regev said.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned Sunday’s violent attacks. “The acts of violence and terrorism committed – especially today – against worshipers at holy sites must be condemned unequivocally,” he stated.
“I express my support for the security forces and for their determination to prevent any harm or interference to the prayers at the Western Wall, the remnant of our Temple. Such acts of hatred cannot be tolerated, and we will not allow any disturbances to prevent Jews from praying at this holy site.”
MK Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) said Sunday’s attacks are one instance in a long line of clashes due to a “historic mistake.”
“We returned to the land of our fathers and saw the vision of the prophets begin to be realized and rebuilt freedom in our land,” he was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post. “In a historic mistake, Moshe Dayan gave the keys to the Temple Mount to the Wakf [Muslim religious trust]. The time has come to fix the historical distortion.”