Police, Rioters Clash on Temple Mount

Dozens of protesters, some of them masked, throw rocks and firecrackers as holy site opens for visitors. Palestinian president accuses Israel of trying to take over Al Aqsa compound.

Nir Hasson
Jack Khoury
Nir Hasson
Jack Khoury

Three police officers were wounded on Wednesday in clashes between police and Palestinian rioters at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Clashes erupted early on Wednesday morning and five Palestinian rioters were arrested after Israeli Jews and tourists were allowed by Israeli authorities to go onto the Temple Mount for the eve of the Jewish holiday Sukkot. The Temple Mount - which Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary - is the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and while it is under Israeli police control, it is ordinarily off-limits to Jews for religious and security reasons.

Dozens of Palestinians, some wearing masks, hurled rocks and firecrackers at police officers, who were able to push the rioters back into the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Two firebombs were thrown from inside the mosque, police said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in response to the clashes that the repeated breaches of Israeli security forces into the Al Aqsa Mosque compound constitute an "Israeli attempt to create facts on the ground and take over the mosque compound." He warned that Israeli policy will turn the existing diplomatic conflict into a religious one.

The director of the Jerusalem Wakf, Sheikh Azzam el-Khatib, said Israel had provoked the disturbances by opening the ordinarily locked Mugrabi Gate and allowing non-Muslim worshippers to enter the Temple Mount for Sukkot, a step Khatib said was taken without coordination with the Wakf. "Israel bears responsibility for incidents at Al Aqsa Mosque, and in recent days we have warned of the consequences of opening Mugrabi Gate," he said. "We have asked the Jordanian govenrment to intervene immediately because what is happening lately at the Al Aqsa compound has become intolerable and very dangerous."

Three police officers were lightly wounded and treated on the spot. Police said that the situation was "under control" and that the Temple Mount was open again to visitors.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered security forces to crack down on riots in East Jerusalem in the wake of continued violence in the area.

Netanyahu called on security officials to stem the violence "not just ahead of the holidays, but in a fundamental manner."

The Jerusalem police stated that any attempt to disturb the peace would be met with zero tolerance.                                                                                         

3 police officers injured lightly in disturbances. Situation under control. Rioters dispersed by police on scene. T mount open to visitors.