Israeli police in front of Al Aqsa mosque 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Palestinian rioting near the Temple Mount before and during Rosh Hashana that
led to 22 arrests was the result of an inflammatory speech last week calling for
violence against Jews during the holidayby Islamic Movement leader
Sheikh Raed Salah, Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said
Salah’s sermon accused Israel of being behind the
crisis in Egypt and throughout the Arab world and claimed Jerusalem police
planned to set the Temple Mount alight during Rosh Hashana.
he said in that speech was to incite rioting on the Temple Mount, and that’s
exactly what happened,” said Rosenfeld. “He called on Palestinians to cause
disturbances on the Temple Mount so we made security measures ahead of time to
ensure the public’s safety.”
Violence at the Temple Mount ensued
Wednesday and Friday, with Palestinians throwing rocks at Jews and
Salah was apprehended Tuesday while en route to al- Aksa Mosque
to attend the protest sponsored by the Islamic Movement planned for Wednesday
Shortly before Wednesday’s planned riot, police prevented over a
dozen buses of radical Muslims from reaching the holy site, and later arrested
seven stone-throwing Arab youths attempting to harm Jewish visitors’ hours
before Rosh Hashana began.
Rosenfeld said Salah was held by police for
approximately 24-hours after refusing the terms of a court order that mandated
he stay at least 30 kilometers away from the capital for six months and pay NIS
50,000 in bond.
He subsequently accepted the court’s terms and on
Wednesday, was released outside the capital.
“They arrested me on
fabricated charges,” Salah told an area news agency following his release. “They
try to intimidate anyone who speaks out against the Israeli occupation of
Rosenfeld said that after Salah was released, he again
incited violence, ordering his followers and factions to riot on the Temple
Violence erupted on two separate occasions following Friday
prayers there – the second day of Rosh Hashana – when hundreds of masked
Palestinians threw rocks at police, resulting in police fired stun grenades and
the arrest 15 rock-throwing assailants.
Rosenfeld said 15 minutes after
the hundreds of officers who were called in during the holiday secured the
scene, the rioting resumed.
“It was right in the middle of the hag, which
is something that normally doesn’t happen,” he said. “Hundreds of officers who
were observing the holiday were forced to go to the Temple Mount to stop the
Rosenfeld said two officers were lightly injured during the
melee before officers were able to disperse the crowd.
Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch issued a statement supporting Salah’s arrest for
attempting to incite violence against Jewish worshipers, and noted the
unacceptable escalation of Arabs attempting to block Jews from the Temple
“I will not allow extremists to disrupt the peace – especially
during the holidays,” Aharonovitch said. “Any person, or organization seeking to
do so will be arrested by the Israel Police, like the seven individuals who were
arrested [Wednesday] morning, that prevented many Muslims from coming to the
Temple Mount to disrupt the visits of Jewish worshippers and
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who visited the
holy site Wednesday, also issued a statement demanding that the Temple Mount be
accessible for Jews at all times.
“I intend to continue going there to
strengthen Israeli sovereignty,” he said. “It is ours, and that is not subject
to any argument or negotiations.”
The tug-of-war between Jews and Arabs
over visitation rights to the Temple Mount has a long and contentious history,
dating back to when the Wakf Muslim religious trust was given oversight of the
holy site following the 1967 War.
The Temple Mount, where the First and
Second Temples were located before being destroyed, is considered the holiest
place on earth to Jews. Al-Aksa Mosque is considered the third holiest place to
Muslims, following mosques located in Mecca and Medina,
Although the Supreme Court has upheld Jewish prayer rights
at the site, the court allows police to prevent any form of worship there if
they believe such activities will incite a “disturbance to the public
Numerous Right-wing Israeli politicians have repeatedly demanded
Jewish sovereignty of the area, as well as greater access, to little avail.