Temple Mount: PM continues Jewish visits after Muslim-police clashes
FROM THE west side of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount one can just make out the chandeliers illuminating the Even Hashtiya (Foundation Stone). The Dome is a Muslim shrine, not a mosque, and commemorates the Prophet Muhammad’s mystical ascent to heaven. At the top of the Mount was the site o
(photo credit: ARNOLD SLYPER)
Muslim worshipers clashed with police on the Temple Mount Sunday morning before Jewish worshipers went up to the site to pray.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ordered the police to continue allowing Jews to ascend the Temple Mount on Sunday, the fast day of Tisha Be'av, even as Muslims clashed with police at the holy site.
Bennett met with Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev and Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai after police entered the area to stop rocks being thrown from al-Aqsa Mosque.
"The prime minister instructed to allow organized and safe ascendance of Jews to the Mount, while keeping order at the site," the Prime Minister's Office said.
No incidents were reported during the Jewish visits, which lasted until Sunday afternoon.
Bennett thanked the police for handling the matter responsibly and protecting Jews’ freedom of worship.
The prime minister also emphasized that “full freedom of worship on the Temple Mount will be maintained for Muslims, as well, who are marking the Day of Arafa and Eid al-Adha this week.
Nearly 1,700 Jews visited the Temple Mount during the permitted hours, after the violent demonstrators were cleared from the area.
Among them was rebel Yamina MK Amichai Chikli, who sang Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. Another Yamina MK, Yom Tov Kalfon, visited the holy site as well.
Images circulating on social media showed a small group of Israeli Jews praying at the site, which is against the rules set by the Jordanian Islamic Trust, known as the Wakf, and generally enforced by Israeli police.
The Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site, where the two temples stood. Tisha Be’av marks the anniversary of their destruction in 586 BCE and 70 CE.
Jordan sent an official letter of protest against Israeli “violations” on the Temple Mount, including “storming of the holy compound by extremist settlers under Israeli police protection,” Jordanian news agency Petra reported.
Palestinian and other Arab media reports often characterize any Jews visiting the Temple Mount as settlers, and their actions as “storming,” even when labeling videos of people walking in an orderly fashion.
Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Daifallah al-Fayz said: "The Israeli actions against the mosque are rejected and condemned, and represent a violation of the historical and legal status quo, international law, and Israel's obligations as an occupying power in East Jerusalem.”
Al-Fayez said the entire Temple Mount compound “is a place of worship purely for Muslims.”
The Islamist Ra'am (United Arab List) Party said "Muslims have an exclusive right to the al-Aqsa Mosque and no one else has any right over it."
Ra'am warned worshippers in a statement on Sunday against a "large number of settlers who have been storming and violating the sanctity of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque since the morning hours."
"This could cause violent events and ignite the situation in Jerusalem and the entire region in way that could lead to a devastating religious war, especially when officials and MKs are allowed to storm al-Aqsa, hold prayers, hold religious ceremonies and read the national anthem 'Hatikva,’” the party stated.
Israel has no religious, historical or legal right to any inch of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, or Temple Mount, Mahmoud Habbash, religious affairs adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said on Sunday.
Commenting on routine visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, which the Palestinians refer to as “incursions,” Habbash, who also serves as the Supreme Sharia Judge in the PA, accused Israel of working to divide the holy site in time and space between Muslim and Jewish worshippers.
“These attempts will not succeed,” Habbash said. “Our people will not accept any attempt to change the historical status of the holy site. The occupation state has no religious, historical or legal right to any inch of occupied Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Habbash said that the are determined to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, adding: “The Palestinian bond in Jerusalem and al-Aqsa will continue and escalate, because we are exercising our legitimate right to protect our land and our holy sites and to defend ourselves.”
He called on the international community and the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel for its “war crimes against the city of Jerusalem, in particular the ongoing aggression against the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Habbash warned of the consequences of Israel’s “daily violations against the al-Aqsa Mosque.” He said Israel’s actions could ignite a religious war.
The PA presidency also warned of the “dangerous Israeli escalation” in Jerusalem and claimed that settlers had “stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli security forces.”
Holding the Israeli government responsible for the tensions at the Temple Mount, the PA condemned what it called “the continued violations of settlers, which pose a serious threat to security and stability.”
The PA said that the Israeli “provocations constitute a challenge to the American demands for preserving the historical status quo in Jerusalem.”
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also accused settlers of “storming” the al-Aqsa Mosque and said that this is a serious violation of the holy site and a provocation to the feelings of Muslims.
Hamas warned on Friday that Israel was "playing with fire" by allowing Jews to visit the Temple Mount and march in the Old City, as it does most years.
The terrorist group called on Gazans to "keep their fingers on the trigger" to defend Jerusalem.
Religious leaders from east Jerusalem called on Arab Israelis to come to the Temple Mount on Sunday and Monday, Ynet reported.
The Red Crescent reported that a number of Palestinians were injured in clashes with police. The majority of the injuries were treated on site, according to the organization.
Ayala Ben-Gvir, wife of far-right Otzma Yehudit MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, went to pray at the Temple Mount with hundreds of other Jews, saying that "it is important not only to sit and cry, but to show up and go on the Temple Mount."
"We are not in exile; we must think how to improve and act for sovereignty and Jewish visits to this holy place,” she said. “Whoever controls the Temple Mount controls the Land of Israel in its entirety, and this is how we will work toward control of this holy and important site."