Less than 48 hours after Pope Francis beseeched Jerusalem’s grand mufti to condemn violence on the Temple Mount, rioting ensued there Wednesday morning as thousands of Jews gathered nearby at the Western Wall in observance of Jerusalem Day.
According to police, upon opening the main gate to the holy site, rocks and bottles were thrown at officers, forcing them to disperse the crowd with stun grenades and to temporarily cordon off part of the site to visitors.
“Police immediately responded to the rioting and pushed them back into al-Aksa Mosque,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, adding that one officer sustained a light injury.
After containing the scene, Rosenfeld said, over 1,000 tourists and 250 Israelis entered the compound to tour it under police protection.
Although no arrests were made during the riot, Rosenfeld said the police is studying the surveillance footage taken of it and plans to apprehend those involved.
The violence comes after the pontiff’s Monday visit to Temple Mount. After entering the Dome of the Rock, Francis held a private meeting with Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti Muhammad Hussein to discuss tolerance and nonviolence as a means of resolving long-held differences with Jews.
According to Muslim media reports, during the meeting Francis implored Hussein and a number of other Palestinian religious leaders to disavow violence and “work together [with Jews] for justice and peace.”
“May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters,” the pope reportedly said during the discussion.
“May we learn to understand the suffering of others. May no one abuse the name of God through violence.”