Mayhem ensued on the Temple Mount Sunday morning, when a group of masked Arab assailants threw rocks, shoes, metal objects, and chairs at a group of Jewish visitors at the contested compound during the first of the last 10 days of Ramadan.
According to police, who provided video of the disturbance, the group of 11 observant Jews were targeted shortly after entering the compound at approximately 9 a.m. in what appeared to be a premeditated attack.
“Arabs, some of whom were masked, threw stones and other objects from inside al-Aksa Mosque at the group, and police officers responded quickly and arrested four suspects who were involved in the disturbance,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
The video shows at least 100 Muslims shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), as well as slurs, at the visitors before the masked suspects wildly throw the objects from the doorway of al-Aksa Mosque, which police are not permitted to enter.
Despite being goaded by the assailants, the video shows heavily armed police remaining calm throughout the onslaught and negotiating with imams and Muslim Wakf personnel to restore calm. No injuries were reported, Rosenfeld said.
“Police units were at the scene and dealt with the disturbances, which lasted about 45 minutes, and immediately after the situation calmed down, the visits continued on the Temple Mount as normal,” he said.
Although non-Muslim visitation to the compound was banned for the last 10 days of Ramadan for the previous two years due to threats of violence, Rosenfeld said that morning tours will resume for the remainder of the holiday.
“Of course we will make security assessments this evening for the next few days of Ramadan,” he said.
“The policy is that depending on the security situation, people will visit the Temple Mount or not. If there is no threat whatsoever and things are calm and quiet, then there will be regular visits.”
One of the tourists, who requested her name not be published, said that while she was initially in fear for her life, the police reacted swiftly to ensure no one was wounded, and allowed the tour to resume immediately after the violence subsided.
“I think that Muslims during the last 10 days of Ramadan sleep in the mosque, and this morning the young Arabs threw things at us, and it was scary,” she said.“But the police allowed for regular hours, and I think that was very brave of them, and no one was hurt.”
Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick also praised police for not bowing to pressure from Muslim extremists who seek to intimidate Jewish visitors during the holiday.
“Today begins the last 10 days of Ramadan, and for the last two years, because of threats, the police have closed it to Jews,” said Glick.
“This year they decided to open it and as soon as these guys started throwing things they immediately arrested them and calmed down the area. The police reacted the way they should have, and I hope that this continues.”
Glick, who was shot four times in the capital in 2014 by a Muslim terrorist for his advocacy of Jewish visitation, said intolerance must be banned from the Mount, not Jews.
“People should respect those who come to the Temple Mount,” he said. “They are not coming to interfere with anybody’s celebration, and there is no reason why tourists and Jews should not be able to visit on these days. We need to show that we will not tolerate any violence.”
However, former east Jerusalem portfolio head and Meretz City Councilman, Dr. Meir Margalit, said on Sunday that allowing Jewish visitation at the contested holy site during Ramadan is a dangerous provocation, particularly during such tense times in the capital.
“Due to the tension in the city these days, it is inappropriate to make these kinds of political visits,” he said, adding that he considers all Jewish visits to the compound during Ramadan as “political.”
“The best that we can do is try not to produce more tension in such a sensitive place,” he continued.
“We should understand the meaning to the Muslims of [this holiday] and we must do everything we can in order to keep the situation quiet.”