Israeli officials question Temple Mount status quo after terror attack

Israeli officials release statements on the attack at the Temple Mount, which has left several injured.

Police at the Temple Mount compound, July 2017 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Police at the Temple Mount compound, July 2017
The government will have to reconsider the security situation on the Temple Mount following Friday’s attack there, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said soon afterward.
“Today’s terrorist attack is a serious and severe event in which redlines were crossed,” Erdan said. “The terrorist attack is still being investigated and will require us to review all of the security arrangements on the Mount and its surroundings.”
Erdan called on public figures to bring calm and keep the peace in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin said “the cynical use of the Temple Mount as a sort of area of immunity for incitement and terrorism must stop.”
“We aren’t happy to have to take action on the Temple Mount, but when we have to, we will. The fact that terrorists are using the Temple Mount starts from incitement. In the past, there were many disruptions of order, which stopped thanks to efforts by security forces and the public security minister,” Elkin added.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that “whoever turns a holy place into the site of a terrorist attack is committing a detestable act that is meant to light a fire between members of different religions and undermine the stability in the State of Israel and in the whole region.”
“Israel will continue fighting determinedly, forcefully and uncompromisingly against terrorists, those who send them and those who incite them,” he added, expressing support for the security forces.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted that the cabinet should discuss “returning security to the Temple Mount and a thorough and new consideration of the current Israeli policy on the Mount.”
Culture Minister Miri Regev called for the Temple Mount to be open to all, without time or area limits.
According to Regev, “the Wakf should only manage the mosque and not the entire Mount, which is under Israeli sovereignty and responsibility.
That’s the only way quiet and security will be returned to the Mount and the Old City.”
The Wakf, or Jordanian Islamic Trust, manages the Temple Mount, and matters related to the holy site are coordinated via the Prime Minister’s Office.
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said that there is a direct connection between recent UNESCO decisions leaving out Israeli and Jewish connections to holy sites and the terrorist attack.
“The Cave of the Patriarchs, Temple Mount and Nablus are three places that our sages said were bought with money in the Land of Israel, and there is no denying their belonging to the Jewish people,” Ben-Dahan, who is a rabbi, said. “We see that in the last week there is a major Palestinian effort to erase the connection of these places to the Jewish people. It started with the UNESCO decision that the Cave of the Patriarchs is a Palestinian heritage site and continues today with the terrorist attack on the Temple Mount.”
In response, Ben-Dahan added that Israel must strengthen its presence and authority in those places and ensure that Jews can safely pray in them at any time.
The Knesset Caucus for the Temple Mount, led by MKs Yehudah Glick (Likud) and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) said the terrorist attack was supported by the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Movement in order to erase Jewish ties to the site.
“We cannot stand by quietly while this happens,” they said. “Radical Muslims who violate with blood the holiness of the Temple Mount, the holiest place for the Jewish people, have no right to be there.”
The caucus called for security forces to find those who sent the terrorists and respond “with a painful and disproportionate strike.”
Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay said: “Once again, we witness a despicable terrorist attack by detestable murderers.
I trust our security forces to use a heavy hand against those who sent the murderers and those who helped them.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said the terrorist attack is “very painful... in the most sensitive place” and called to respond “calmly and responsibly, without belligerence.”