Police, Palestinians Clash at Temple Mount as Record Number of Jews Visit Holy Site

Jewish visitors removed from site after praying, against regulations ■ Violent confrontation comes on Israel's Jerusalem Day and ahead of the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and Nakba Day

Jews and Palestinians clash near Temple Mount in Jerusalem, May 13, 2018.

Violent clashes erupted on Sunday morning between the Jerusalem Waqf and the Israel Police at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as hundreds of Jews visited the compound.

During the confrontation, a policeman slapped a young Palestinian who shouted at Jews praying there, causing a violent riot.

The riots erupted after police removed a number of underage Israelis who had been praying in the compound, against regulations. Jewish Temple Mount groups said that 1,620 Jews visited the site before noon on Sunday – apparently a record daily number of Jewish visitors since 1967, when Israel occupied the Old City during the 1967 War.

Three minors raised an Israeli flag at the Temple Mount, including the son of lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi).

A source in the Waqf estimated that the number of Jewish visitors on Sunday morning hit a record  high and would continue to be break records throughout the day. However, as of Sunday morning, Temple Mount visits by Israeli Jews are as normal.

A researcher from the left-wing organization Ir Amim blamed the police for allowing a large numbers of Jews to enter the area. Aviv Tatarski called on the police "to stop surrounding to the Temple activists and focus on the task of staying in the status quo" of the Waqf.

Israel on Sunday is celebrating Jerusalem Day, which this year marks the 51st anniversary of Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem and of the capital’s reunification. Zionist Religious youths are celebrating the day with a "flag march" through the Jerusalem Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

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The violent confrontation comes ahead of the Palestinian demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday to demand their rights. Palestinians will protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and on the following day, they will rally in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day.