Temple Mount Clashes: Jordan Condemns 'Blunt' Israeli Violations as Jews Allowed in Holy Site

Violence on Temple Mount sparked on Tisha B'Av, which coincides with Eid al-Adha ■ Police claim friction started when Muslims began hurling objects ■ 15 wounded Palestinians evacuated to nearby hospitals after police fire stun grenades, tear gas

Jews worshipers on Temple Mount, August 11, 2019.
Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement

Israeli police decided on Sunday to allow Jews to enter Temple Mount to mark Tisha B'Av following clashes with forces and worshipers commemorating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.  

The Israel Police had originally warned that no Jews would be allowed to enter the Temple Mount, citing potential for "high-friction" with Muslim worshipers. 

The site has long been a flash-point between Jews, who are marking the destruction of the First and Second Temple and consider Temple Mount the holiest site in Judaism, and Muslims who consider the site the third holiest after Mecca and Medina. 

Clashes erupt between Palestinians and Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site

Clashes erupted around 9:30 A.M. after worshipers finished their prayers. Police forces reportedly fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters after they claimed the worshipers began hurling objects at officers and yelling "nationalistic remarks."

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 61 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, with 15 evacuated to nearby hospitals. Police reported that four officers lightly wounded in the clashes. Seven people were arrested, the Israeli police said. 

Following another assessment, the police said they would permit Jewish visitors to enter Temple Mount. According to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, 1,700 Jews were allowed to enter the compound. 

Jordan's Foreign Ministry condemned what it described as "blunt Israeli violations on the Temple Mount as Palestinians mark the first day of Eid al-Adha."

"Jordan harshly rejects Israel's conduct, which only inflames rage and frustration and its provocations of [Muslim] worshipers on the first day of the Feast of the Sacrifice," spokesperson for the ministry said.

Israeli security forces scuffle with Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019.
AFP

He added that the State of Israel bears full responsibility for the future ramifications of Sunday's Temple Mount clashes and called on the international community "to immediately intervene to stop this conduct."

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi added in a tweet, “We call upon the international community to hold Israel accountable and pressure it to cease its violations.”

The Palestinian Authority issued a statement on the clashes calling for Arab and Islamic states to "take action" toward the international community and Israel "to stop the aggression against worshipers." The PA also called for an emergency Security Council meeting to provide international protection for Palestinians and their holy sites.

Earlier, a Jewish man was lightly wounded after hitting a woman leaving Temple Mount. According to Palestinian eyewitnesses, he attacked the woman and was then beaten in response by a Palestinian man.

Tens of thousands of Muslims arrived at the holy site for a mass service after the Islamic custodian of the Temple Mount encouraged as many Muslims as to possible to attend the Eid al-Adha prayers. 

Clashes erupt between police forces and Muslim worshipers on Temple Mount, August 11, 2019.

On Friday, the Waqf Council announced that all mosques in the city would be closed on Sunday, excluding the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Palestinian sources, Imams were to comply with the Waqf's order, leaving no choice for every Muslim who desires to pray during the holiday but to arrive at Temple Mount.

As Jews began to gather at the Temple Mount, the council persisted in holding mass services, with the Waqf as well as political organizations in Jerusalem calling on worshipers not to leave the site.

"Don't leave the Al-Aqsa Mosque as prey for settlers who are gathering next to the Mughrabi Bridge," the Waqf council said.     

Clashes between police forces and Muslim worshipers on Temple Mount, August 11, 2019.
Mahmoud Illean / AP

Jewish Temple Mount activists called on worshipers marking Tisha B'Av, the day of fasting and mourning commemorating the destruction of both temples and the exile of the Jewish people, to arrive in droves "to show the site is important and sacred to us.

"It seems the Arabs are going to win over the battle to open Temple Mount to Jews on Tisha B'Av," activist Atnon Segal said.     

"When hundreds of thousands of Jews arrive at Temple Mount, no one will be able to prevent the building of the Temple," another activist said.   

Erdan said on Friday that shutting down the Temple Mount during Muslim holidays is not part of the status quo, but the decision was made out of security considerations and due to the large number of Muslim worshipers on the Mount.

A security official told Haaretz that "for the past 52 years, Jews have never been admitted to the Temple Mount during Muslim prayers. This is a status quo." 

The Temple Mount status quo sometimes shifts, but in practice the complex has been closed over the past few years during Eid al-Adha and all other Muslim holidays.  

However, Temple Mount activists and right-wing politicians have put pressure on the police in recent years, making it challenging for them to close the Mount on Jerusalem Day and Tisha B'Av.

This year the police opened the premises to Jews on Jerusalem Day, which resulted in a mass demonstration and clashes between Jews and Palestinians on the Mount.  

Israel's Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef welcomed the initial decision to bar Jews from entering. "Jewish entrance to the Temple Mount is strictly prohibited by law," he noted, "and Jews should be prevented from entering throughout the year." 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Sunday the decision to let Jewish worshipers in the holy site was his. In a tweet, he said "the question wasn't whether they'll be allow or not, but how to handle it in the best way possible," adding he was "not impressed by the recommendations of the Twitter cabinet."

The United Right slate issued earlier a statement in response to the original closure saying, "Netanyahu's decision to close Temple Mount is a national disgrace. We call on the prime minister to reverse his decision."

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich tweeted: "The decision to give in to terror and Arab violence in the most scared place for the Jewish people is the root of losing deterrence on other fronts as well."

Smotrich called on Netanyahu to convene the security cabinet to discuss the opening of the complex. "If you don't have the guts to take this decision by yourself, convene us and we'll assume responsibility."