Telling them that they have right to be there, MK Jamal Zahalka harrassed and shouted at police officers and Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount on Tuesday.
The lawmaker released several videos of himself shouting at a group of Jewish visitors – men, women and children dressed in holiday garb in honor of Succot – who walked around the compound mostly silently.
Zahalka (Joint List) waited by the Mugrabi Gate – the only one through which the Wakf Muslim religious trust that controls the site allows Jews to enter, as opposed to the 10 gates for Muslims – and as Jews entered, he shouted at Israeli police officers: “Why are you even letting them in? Just for a provocation? Just to harm the sensitivities of Muslims?” To the Jewish visitors, the MK shouted: “Get out of here! Go home! You have no place here! You are not wanted here!” “By what right are you here? Go to your houses!” he added.
When police officers moved to stand between Zahalka and the Jewish visitors, he resisted, saying “I’m an MK,” and asking them why they are letting “crazy people” on the site and “harming Muslims.”
Throughout the clips, Zahalka walked alongside the silent Jewish visitors and continually yelled at them that they should get out, calling them “criminals, fascists, racists” and calling the Temple Mount his home.
In all four videos, only one Jewish visitor at one point responded to Zahalka, saying: “You get out, this is our place.”
Shouts of “Allahu Akbar” could be heard throughout the clips.
MKs on the Left and Right criticized Zahalka.
MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) said that, while he does not agree with the government’s policies in Jerusalem, igniting the situation is not the solution.
“Zahalka is a professional pyromaniac who does not miss a chance to agitate and provoke through violence and incitement,” he said. “The government’s doctrine of containing the conflict is exploding in Jerusalem residents’ faces, but in any case, we cannot allow a situation in which the mosque turns into an arsenal overnight, which exports violence instead of prayer.”
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said that Zahalka should be put on trial for attacking civilians and police officers.
According to Liberman, Zahalka’s behavior is part of the Joint List’s attempts to agitate the situation on the Temple Mount and harm Jewish visitors.
“Zahalka, who yelled that Jews should get out and go to hell and said that he is defending his home should know that not only is the Temple Mount not his and his friends’ home, but the State of Israel in general is not his home,” Liberman added.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said “it is clear once again that those who incite and provoke on the Temple Mount are not the Jews who go to fulfill their Jewish and moral right in the holiest place to the Jewish people, but organized groups led by Arab MKs.”
Ariel demanded that the government and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) ban Arab MKs from ascending the Mount and permanently ban any activists making provocations.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) called on Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, whom she said believes in coexistence and peace, to remove Balad, the party to which Zahalka and MKs Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas belong, from the list.
According to Regev, Balad MKs are “experts in provocations who wave a flag of hatred.
They don’t serve the public that elected them; they just do damage.”
Odeh, however, said that Zahalka’s shouts represent the entire Joint List’s stance, which is that “the al-Aksa Mosque belongs to Muslims and the only way to protect it is to continue our struggle to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state on ’67 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
The Joint List chairman also accused the government of “working in the settlers’ service in what seems to be an intentional attempt to agitate and fan the flames and lead the region to a religious war.”
MK Anat Berko (Likud) submitted a complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee against Zahalka, saying that he went against an MK’s job, according to the Knesset’s ethical guidelines, of protecting Israel’s basic values as a Jewish and democratic state in that he sought to deny Jews freedom of worship.
In addition, Berko said Zahalka obstructed police officers from doing their job, defying an MK’s job, also according to the ethical rules, of promoting rule of law.
Other rules of ethics Berko said Zahalka defied were behaving in a way appropriate to a lawmaker, setting a personal example and avoiding abusing his parliamentary immunity.
MK Oren Hazan (Likud) called Zahalka a “terrorist of words,” and called for Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to investigate him for incitement to violence.
“While the ‘terrorist of words’ Zahalka continues to incite freely and enjoy parliamentary immunity, Jews wrapped in prayer shawls cannot freely and safely reach the Western Wall.
How long will this continue? When will we understand that words, like rocks, can be terrorism?” he stated.
Non-Muslims may only visit the Temple Mount in small groups with police escorts and may not pray, sing, prostrate themselves or do anything that resembles praying while there.
In recent weeks, there has been an escalation in violence and rioting by Arabs on the Temple Mount, including increased throwing of rocks and explosives, and harassment of Jews on and around the compound.
Groups funded by the Islamic Movement to harass Jewish visitors were banned from the site.
There have been no reported incidents of violence by Jews on the Mount in the same period.
On Monday, the police planned to bar Muslim men under age 50 from entering the Temple Mount, but the night before, dozens of Arab youths barricaded themselves in al-Aksa Mosque, where they had stockpiled firebombs, rocks and firecrackers, which they threw at police early Monday morning.
There were no Jewish visitors on the compound when the violence occurred.
Jordanian King Abdullah said in his speech to the UN’s General Assembly hours later, that he rejects “threats to the Arab character of this holy city,” saying “the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian sites is a sacred duty.”
Also on Monday, the “International Jerusalem Foundation,” a Muslim group that claims to be protecting the Temple Mount, posted videos on Facebook praising Muslim men and women for accosting Jews walking in the Old City on the Succot holiday. In one, an Arab man shoved a young Jewish man holding the four species in honor of Succot and was stopped by police. The video’s caption called the Muslim man who attacked the Jewish man “blessed.” Another showed a man with sidelocks who was clutching the four species being chased through an alley by Muslims, and firecrackers were thrown at him.
The Palestinian news agency Shehab tweeted a video of a haredi man and his son walking through the old city with their four species, being chased and shouted at by Muslim men and women, while the son, visibly scared, cried. The tweet included the text: “Horror fills the heart of the settlers and their descendants from the words ‘Allahu Akbar.’” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Jews for desecrating the Mount with their “filthy feet” earlier this month, and Joint List MKs visited him, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to blame Israel for the increase of violence. This is despite government and police efforts to maintain the status quo there, severely limiting Jewish visits and prohibiting non-Muslim prayer.