Clashes on the Temple Mount on the “Saddest Day of the Jewish Calendar”

August 12, 2019

by:  Kate Norman

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Israeli police and Palestinians clash on the Temple Mount

Monday, 12 August 2019 | The overlap of Jewish and Muslim holidays on Sunday created the perfect storm for a clash on the Temple Mount. Muslim protest of Jewish visitors on the holy site turned into a riot, forcing the Israeli police to intervene.

Beginning the day, Israeli police had conducted a security assessment and decided that non-Muslims would not be allowed to enter the Temple Mount. Later, the police reassessed and for two hours allowed Jewish people to enter the site and follow a path to tour the site—though as usual they were not allowed to pray.

Muslim protesters began rioting and clashed with Israeli police, forcing the Israeli security forces to use riot dispersal measures such as tear gas and rubber bullets to control the crowd. Sixty-one Muslims were injured, and four Israeli officers were wounded during the skirmish, according to the Red Crescent, a humanitarian organization.

Palestine TV reported that the Jewish visitors who were allowed into the site were in and out within a few minutes, according to the Times of Israel. Cries in Arabic from megaphones on the site called for Muslims to crowd the area and prevent the Jewish visitors from entering, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The Muslim worshippers were outraged that Jewish visitors were allowed to ascend the controversial site during the holiday and were gathered in “a peaceful manner,” protesting their Jewish visitors, an anonymous Waqf (Muslim religious trust) official told the Times of Israel. (The Temple Mount has been under Waqf control in order to keep it in neutral hands ever since 1967.)

“It’s unacceptable that they be allowed to enter during our holiday,” the unnamed official said.

What did that “peaceful manner” of protest look like? Muslim rioters chanting “nationalistic calls” and throwing chairs and whatever else they could find at the Jewish tourists—who totaled 1,729, according to the public security minister’s office.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s public security minister, praised the Israeli police for its handling of the situation.

“I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart Jerusalem District Police commander Doron Yedid, who dealt with the events on the Temple Mount responsibly and courageously,” Erdan said. “He implemented the policies that we decided last week: Allow every Jew and visitor to go to the Temple Mount in accordance with an assessment of the security situation.”

Arabic nations, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, joined the Palestinian leadership in condemning the Jewish state’s allowing of Israelis to ascend the Temple Mount and its crowd dispersal methods, parroting each other’s rebukes of “Israeli violations” and “Israeli aggression.”

In condemning the Israeli response to the most recent clash on the Temple Mount, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter to proclaim: “We Muslims have power to end this tyranny, but only if we unite.”

The site of the Temple Mount, where the First and Second Temples once stood, now where the Al-Aqsa Mosque stands, is a lightning rod for Muslim–Jewish tensions. From sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday, the Jewish people marked Tisha B’Av, known as the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. The holiday—which falls on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av—marks several tragedies for the people of the book, including the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as modern atrocities, including the date Hitler’s “Final Solution” was approved.

This year, Tisha B’Av coincided with the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha, which marks the end of Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. Thousands of Muslims were gathered on the Temple Mount on Sunday to mark the holiday on which their tradition says Allah told Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael.

This year on Tisha B’Av, thousands of Jewish people—most of whom fasted during the 24-hour period—gathered at the Kotel, or Western Wall, and in its vicinity to pray and read passages from Jeremiah concerning the destruction of the Temples as well as the book of Lamentations.

Posted on August 12, 2019

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 12, 2019)

Photo Credit: VOA News/YouTube/screenshot