Mobs of Palestinians used the al-Aqsa mosque as a fort while rampaging on the Temple Mount in order to prevent Jews from visiting their most sacred site. The rioters caused extensive damage, although the location is also holy to Muslims.
Hundreds of Palestinians rioted on the Temple Mount on Sunday in an attempt to prevent Israelis from entering their holiest site, where the First and Second Temples stood in ancient times.
Jews entered the site on Sunday, which coincided with Tisha b’Av, the day on which they mourn the destruction of the Holy Temples.
After receiving intelligence warnings on a pending Arab riot, Israeli police stormed the Temple Mount and prevented the planned attack on the Jewish visitors.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said they received prior information that masked Arab youths were barricading themselves inside the al-Aqsa Mosque armed with rocks and fire bombs. A number of officers were wounded as they pushed the rioters back into their houses of prayer that were used as battlegrounds, he added.
The Arabs stockpiled rocks, fire bombs, firecrackers used as rockets, mosque furniture and other objects to throw at Israeli security forces inside their mosques, and they barricaded themselves inside their places of worship.
None of the rioters were arrested.
President Reuven Rivlin condemned the rampage. “Today, the fast of Tisha B’Av, we mourn the destruction of the Temple, the memory and lessons of which stay with us each and every day,” he said. “The acts of violence and terrorism committed especially today, against worshipers at holy sites, must be condemned unequivocally.”
“Such acts of hatred cannot be tolerated, and we will not allow any disturbances to prevent Jews from praying at this holy site,” he added.
A spokesman for the Hamas terror organization urged the Palestinians to escalate their “resistance activities” against Israel in response to Jews visiting on the Temple Mount.
Hamas spokesman Husam Badran hailed the “steadfastness” of the Muslims at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and what he described as their defense against attempts at desecration by Jews.
Badran warned against an Israeli presence on the Temple Mount, stating that “the Palestinian people would sacrifice everything they have to defend it.”
He called on “every Palestinian able to strike the occupation” to take the initiative and “strongly respond to its violations,” stressing that “Israel understands only the language of force.”
Jews refer to the hilltop site — their holiest — as Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount). Muslims call it the Noble Sanctuary. It is Islam’s third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The site is a flashpoint of tension between the faiths.
Muslim worship on the site is uninhibited, but Jewish access is severely restricted by the State of Israel, which wishes to maintain calm, even at the expense of Jewish rights. Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is completely prohibited. Two Jews were arrested on the Temple Mount on Sunday for allegedly praying or expressing their religiosity on the site.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
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