MK Jamal Zahalka speaks at the Knesset. (Hadas Parush/Flash90) MK Jamal Zahalka speaks at the Knesset. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
MK Jamal Zahalka speaks at the Knesset. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Arab lawmakers joined in the anti-Israel incitement over the decision to install metal detectors at the Temple Mount in the wake of a deadly terror attack that killed two Druze policemen.

Responding to incitement by Jordanian Muslim authorities, Palestinian leaders and Arab-Israeli Knesset members, hundreds of Muslim worshipers clashed with Israeli security forces outside the Temple Mount Friday morning, protesting Israel’s refusal to remove metal detectors at the entrances to the holy site.

Following last week’s deadly terror attack at the Mount that claimed the lives of two Israeli Druze police officers, Israel installed the detectors as added security after briefly closing the site to worshipers.

The Jordanian Waqf (Muslim Trust), which has administered the site since Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been urging protests against the new security measures, resulting in clashes and violence throughout the week.

Members of the Joint List, an alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in the Knesset, joined the calls for protest. Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka charged on Facebook that “the ‘Occupation’ has prevented tens of thousands of people from entering Jerusalem and reaching Al-Aqsa [Mosque], which is a serious violation of freedom of movement and freedom of worship.”

Zahalka: ‘We Reject Any Compromise’

“No matter what they do, they will not deter us. We are the protectors of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa… We reject the decision of the Israeli government,” he said. “We reject any compromise and are determined to remove the electronic gates erected by the Occupation.”

In April 2016, Zahalka called on Palestinians to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount holy site “in any way possible,” just a day after he, together with colleagues Hanin Zoabi and Basel Ghattas, had returned from a two-month suspension from the Knesset after visiting the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis.

Israeli security was prepared for the protests on Friday, with thousands of police standing guard in and around the Jerusalem’s Old City.

Police ‘Dealing with Several Challenges’

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement, saying, “Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy sites. The cabinet has authorized Israel Police to ensure free access to the holy sites while maintaining public security and order.”

“As Israel’s police force, we have an obligation to provide security to all of Israel’s citizens, no matter who they are. At the same time, we must not forget that the terror attack last week signaled that a red line had been crossed in the sensitive situation on the Temple Mount,” Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh stated. “We are dealing with several challenges both in and out of Jerusalem.

“I believe that our forces are ready for any situation, and will preserve public order and security. We will work to return normalcy and allow Jerusalem’s residents to live an ordinary life. We ask Jerusalem’s residents to work with us to achieve these goals,” he said.

Barkat: We Will Not Let Terror Win

“The decision of Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram Halevy to place metal detectors on the Temple Mount is a courageous decision, because at this time last week two policemen were murdered at the site. This decision is a responsible one that will help to ensure that such incidents do not repeat themselves,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement.

“We will not succumb to threats and allow terror to win,” he declared. “Even if we face security challenges, today and in the future, this is the right decision, and we must stand with the police and support them. I commend the Jerusalem District Police Commander for his leadership in leading the decision and the Cabinet for their backing.

“This is not a political matter; it is a professional, security issue,” he noted. “No one is challenging the status quo on the Temple Mount and I call on all Muslim residents to help maintain the calm, not to act violently and to obey the police’s orders. Those who come to pray in peace are welcome. Those who come to engage in terror and provocation will dealt with harshly. ”

By: Terri Nir, United with Israel

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