Rioting on Temple Mount, October 8, 2014..
(photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
With the opening of the Temple Mount to visitors on Wednesday morning, dozens of masked Palestinians threw rocks and shot fireworks towards the police forces stationed in the Mughrabi Gate area, lightly injuring three officers.
Mughrabi Gate is the entrance to the Temple Mount area from the Western Wall plaza.
The police entered the Temple Mount compound following the outburst of violence and chased the rioters who ran inside the al-Aqsa mosque.
Police said that the rioters had placed, in advance of the disturbance, objects to obstruct the police at the mosque and poured flammable material on the objects.The rioters began throwing bricks and rocks at the police officers from inside the mosque. They also shot fireworks at the police from inside the mosque and sprayed an unidentified substance that caused difficulty in breathing. A firebomb thrown from inside the mosque shattered but did not ignite, police said.
Security forces succeeded in removing the barricade at the entrance to the mosque that consisted of large slabs of marble, furniture and steel and wood posts.
Police said that they succeeded in bringing the riot under control and Jewish and non-Jewish visitors were touring the site as usual.
The three hurt police officers were injured by rocks and fireworks and were treated at the scene by police medics.
Police increase security for Succot holiday
Amid a backdrop of chronic violence in east Jerusalem, police announced Tuesday that security assessments for the extended Succot holiday had been formalized throughout the capital, with a special emphasis on Arab sectors and the Old City.
Expecting tens of thousands of visitors at the Western Wall, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that hundreds of extra undercover, patrol and Border Police units will be on hand to prevent violent incidents from taking place.
While no specific imminent threats of protests or rioting have been gleaned from police intelligence, Rosenfeld said on Tuesday police were not taking any chances.
“Security will be beefed up to enable the thousands of visitors to visit in safety,” he said. “There will be an increased police presence throughout east Jerusalem, Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate to ensure no disturbances take place.”
Asked about enhanced security provisions at the Temple Mount, a known flashpoint for Arab violence, Rosenfeld said that for the time being no age restrictions will be imposed to limit Muslims under the age of 50.
However, he noted that that may change if police learn of any looming threats.
“We will adjust our strategy as necessary,” he said.
The capital’s ongoing security challenges made headlines Sunday when Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat accused Ministry of Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch of abdicating his responsibility to protect residents.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barkat accused Aharonovitch of “not providing police in Jerusalem with the necessary means to beat the rioters.”
“Mr. Prime Minister, I request your immediate intervention in solving the crisis, because we are at a crucial and critical time,” he continued. “…the riots in Jerusalem could be a sign of things to come, and expand to other cities and endanger the citizens of Israel.”
In response, Aharonovitch said Barkat never arranged a meeting with him to discuss the situation, and then opportunistically used the media to undermine his leadership.