Temple Mount Reopens to Jews, Stones Hurled by Palestinians at Police

Following a clash-filled Ramadan month, Palestinians warned against raising the Israeli flag at the holy site, and accused Israeli police of disconnecting the speakers at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Memorial Day

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The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, last month.
The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Jewish worshippers began ascending the Temple Mount on Thursday escorted by a heavy police detail. As a response to the Jewish presence clashes irrupted between police and Palestinians at the site. Police said that dozens of rioters began hurling rocks and other objects toward security forces, however the forces were able to quickly restore the peace. Palestinian media reported the police used tear gas and rubber-tipped bullets against rioters.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry commented on the reopening of the site to Jewish visitors calling it a provocation against attempts to maintain order and peace at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jordanian Minister of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places Mohammad Khalaileh said Thursday that continuing to allow Jews to visit the Temple Mount is "a provocation against Muslim worshippers" and that the visit will only "escalate the tensions and drag the area into clashes and wars."

Several Palestinian and Arab organizations warned Thursday against allowing Jews at the Temple Mount following a 12-day period in which the government barred Jewish visitors from entering the compound during the final days of Ramadan.

Topping off a month of confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa compound, Hamas and Islamic Jihad accused police of disconnecting the muezzin's speakers at the mosque on Tuesday night so as not to interfere with the Israeli Memorial Day opening ceremony at the adjacent Western Wall plaza. In response, police clarified the speakers were not disconnected and posted a rare warning against fake news on social media.

Border Police in the Old City of Jerusalem, last month.

With the 12-day period now coming to a close, the compound has reopened for Jewish visits Thursday at 7 A.M. and religious Jewish organizations have called on their supporters to come in droves, leading a number of Palestinian and Arab groups to threaten escalation and warn Israel against raising the Israeli flag at the holy site.

In recent years, Israel's security echelon closed the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors for the last ten days of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

Following the loudspeakers' alleged disconnection, Hamas condemned on Wednesday what they defined as ongoing Israeli aggression against the al-Aqsa Mosque. Islamic Jihad said that "the settlers' calls to break into the al-Aqsa Mosque are blatant aggression that cannot be tolerated, and it symbolizes a very dangerous escalation."

But calls were not limited to Palestinian groups. Egyptian Minister of Endowments, Dr. Mukhtar Juma'a, said, "The waving of Israeli flags and the singing of the Israeli anthem in the Al-Aqsa Mosque are a blatant aggression on the mosque and a dangerous provocation in the feelings of Muslims all over the world. It serves the extremists and harms international peace and the discourse between religions and cultures." Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrima Sa'id Sabri also warned against "settler conspiracies."

Israeli police released a statement saying that, "In recent days, incitement to violence has been circulating on social media combined with false and misleading information about the Temple Mount, in order to incite violence and disorder. This messaging is distributed, among other things, by terrorist organizations that try to use the Temple Mount and young people to serve their purposes. This is false information that has no grip on reality and is published to mislead the public. To clarify, the wrong and ridiculous attempt to exploit the holy places for incitement and violence, and serve the goals of terrorist organizations of any kind that will not lead to a change in reality on the ground."

The police further specified that "nothing has changed and nothing will change in the practice that has existed for many years on the Temple Mount and the holy places in general, and exist within the context of Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount or of tourist visits from abroad or Israelis in accordance with the rules of the visit and the usual visiting hours."

During the month of Ramadan, the police broke into the Temple Mount several times and confronted hundreds of young Palestinians who had barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Dozens were injured in the clashes, including one fatality, and Lid Sharif, who was wounded in the head by a sponge bullet and hospitalized at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

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