If Temple Mount security measures remain, 'we will see an explosion'

Unrest brews in Jerusalem as Israeli forces tighten security in the Old City.

July 18, 2017 17:45
4 minute read.
Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers at Temple Mount.

Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers and newly installed metal detectors at an entrance to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City July 16, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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For the third consecutive day, Muslims refused to enter the Temple Mount on Tuesday due to the installation of metal detectors at some of its gates. Locals warned of the dire consequences of keeping the new measure in place, especially ahead of Friday prayers.

Muhammad Arar, a resident of the Muslim Quarter, told The Jerusalem Post that locals were willing to escalate the situation until they got their way. He added that Friday would be a critical point.

“If the metal detectors are not removed, we will see an explosion here,” said Arar.

“People will tear them down with their hands. The number of people who enter al-Aksa every Friday is huge, so the police have three days to reevaluate [the enhanced security measures].”

Tens of thousands of Muslims normally attend Friday prayers on the Temple Mount, which includes people from both Israel and the West Bank, according to police.

Wa’al, another resident of the Muslim Quarter, said that the new security measures are an act of war not only against the Palestinian people, but the entire Muslim world.

“The fact that we haven’t heard anything from [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi or King Abdullah [of Jordan] does not mean anything.

They do not represent the millions of Muslim who are watching us every day and supporting our struggle.

“In this battle, the Israeli government will learn who the Palestinian people are, and how persistent we are.

We will never give up,” Wa’al said.
Jerusalem Old City security arrangements beefed up following friday attack (credit: POLICE)

He added that if the Jews thought they had it bad wandering in the desert for 40 years, dealing with Palestinians will cause the Jews to suffer “for another hundred years.”

Three of the entrances to the Temple Mount are open to Muslim worshipers: the Gate of the Tribes (Bab al-Asbat); the Gate of the Council (Bab al-Majlis); and the Chain Gate (Bab al-Silsala).

Police continue their security measures in the area, and randomly check residents and visitors at the gates of the Old City.

The metal detectors were installed on Sunday following Friday’s terrorist attack near and on the Temple Mountin which two border policemen were killed, and after weapons were found in subsequent searches on the Mount.

After the scanners were put in place, the Wakf religious trust and other Islamic authorities called on Muslims to refrain from entering the compound, due to what they deemed “severe violation of the status quo.” They called instead for prayers to be conducted near the compound.

Some 200 people gathered next to Lions’ Gate for the noon prayer on Tuesday.

When the prayer ended, a group of women chanted: “Al-Aksa is ours,” and “Muhammad’s army and sword shall return.”

On Tuesday evening, lawmakers from the Joint List arrived at Lions’ Gate and joined the evening prayer.

MK Ahmad Tibi called on the government to remove the metal detectors.

Removing the scanners will prevent an escalation of the situation,” said Tibi. “We ask for peace, not for war. We call on Netanyahu to annul the decision, restore the situation and allow [Muslims to practice] freedom of religion without any restriction.”

Also present were MKs Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi, Osama Saadi and Juma’a Azbaraga.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman turned to the US in an effort to resolve the Temple Mount crisis in the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting attack, the London-based Arabic news service Elaph reported.

According to the Elaph report, the decision to reopen the Temple Mount to worshipers came after the Saudi king personally intervened, urging Israel via the White House to immediately end the closure.

The report quoted unnamed sources as saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had relayed to the Saudis, via the US administration, his vow that Israel would not change the status quo on the Temple Mount. Jordan had also been involved in the process of communication, the sources said.

Netanyahu reportedly invited Saudi officials to visit the al-Aksa Mosque to see firsthand that the status quo remains in place.

No response has been given, according to the report. The White House has not confirmed this report.

Overnight Monday and early Tuesday, Muslims rioted against police on the road near Lions’ Gate.

According to various reports, several rioters were injured. Rioters threw stones and other objects at police.

The same night, in the Silwan neighborhood on the other side of the Old City, police dispersed rioters who launched fireworks directly at them. Police used non-lethal means and continued to patrol the area.

At the entrance to the Isawiya neighborhood, located on the capital’s Mount Scopus, a number of masked assailants threw fire bombs and shot fireworks at police officers patrolling the area.

Four people were arrested overnight.

Camal Ryan, head of the al-Aksa Foundation, told the Post that the events were an obvious response to the Temple Mount security measures.

“Israel is trying to change the status quo by installing these new metal detectors,” he said. “We warned that it would lead to an escalation. The responsibility lies in Netanyahu’s hands, he is the captain of this ship.”

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