Arab MK to Be Questioned Over Taunts of Jews at Temple Mount

Jamal Zahalka calls the summons a ‘political investigation’ led by the extreme right.

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MK Jamal Zahalka being restrained in the Knesset.
MK Jamal Zahalka being restrained in the Knesset.Credit: Dudi Vaknin

Police have summoned MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint Arab List) to appear for questioning early next week over his verbal attacks on Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount on Tuesday.

In a videotaped confrontation, Zahalka shouted at the group of Jewish visitors: “Go away, go home, you’re not wanted. Crazy criminals. This is ours, this is my home. Racist fascists.”

The MK’s visit to the Mount followed days of tension that have included repeated clashes between police and Muslim rioters. Despite these tensions, non-Muslims have continued visiting the site; on Tuesday there were 729 non-Muslim visitors, of whom 592 were foreign tourists and the rest Israelis.

“The police were quick to publicize the summons for questioning and its purpose even before I received it,” Zahalka said about the police summons on Wednesday.

“The summons doesn’t say what the purpose of the investigation is, but according to the media reports, it’s about what happened at Al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday. If so, this is a political investigation and the police force is acting like a political police force that’s riding the wave of incitement against me.”

This wave, he charged, was being led by politicians including Miri Regev, Anat Berko and Yuli Edelstein (all of Likud), Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) and Itzik Shmuli (Labor).

“The police know that I’ve received hundreds of threats but they haven’t lifted a finger. In contrast, they hastened to summon me for investigation even though they know there’s no point to it,” Zahalka said.

“Everything I said at Al-Aqsa to the extremists who invaded it and the police who protected them, I’ve said at the Knesset podium hundreds of times. We won’t let the mosque be harmed and we won’t let it be divided.”

As Zahalka put it, “I urge the Israeli government not to undermine the status quo, and if it tries to, it will bear full responsibility for the huge conflagration and bloodshed. The lunatics in the government and on the extreme right must not be allowed to drag the inhabitants of this country and the region into more disasters.”

Zahalka was speaking a day after clashes in East Jerusalem continued. Police said four Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount had been detained, three for violating the rules governing such visits and one for assaulting a policeman. A Muslim woman was also detained on the Mount, for trying to attack a policeman.

In the Old City, police arrested three Palestinians for assaulting a policeman and disturbing the peace. Two of the three were women.

Late Tuesday night, police arrested 13 East Jerusalem residents, five of them minors, on suspicion of disturbing the peace and rioting. Altogether, 174 people had been arrested for disturbing the peace since Rosh Hashanah eve on September 13; of these, 69 were minors.

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