Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has accused the Palestinian Authority of being responsible for Sunday's violent protests on the Temple Mount.
Four police officers and dozens of others were injured on Sunday after Muslims violently attacked Jewish visitors to the holy site. The Jews wanted to visit the Temple Mount in honor of Tisha Be’Av, the day of mourning when Jews commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples.
Tisha Be’Av this year coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice.
The PMW noted that the PA refers to Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount as “invaders” and regularly calls on the international community to prevent the "Judaization" of the holy site.
However, ahead of Sunday, the PA took specific steps to prevent Jews from going up to the mount. The first: changing Muslim prayer times on the mount to ensure maximum attendance.
On Sunday, the first three of five daily Muslim prayers were to take place on the Temple Mount at 4:29 a.m., 5:56 a.m. and 12:44 p.m. The leading mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories changed the 5:56 a.m. prayer time to 7:30 a.m.
“The purpose of the change was to ensure that as many Muslims as possible would be present as the Jews would want to begin to ascend the Temple Mount,” PMW explained.
The next day, after the clashes, the prayer time went back to normal.
On August 11, in an interview broadcast on PA TV, a Palestinian official told the broadcaster that, “Of course, Muslims are using different means to prevent the break-ins into the blessed Al-Aksa Mosque.”
When asked if the prayer had been changed specifically to prevent Jewish visitors, the official responded, “Exactly. Prayers are being held out of time to protect [the mosque] and assert that this place is for Muslims.”
Furthermore, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein, former grand mufti of Jerusalem Ekrima Sabri and senior Waqf official Abdel Azeem Sahlab announced that “all mosques in Jerusalem will be closed and that blessed Eid al-Adha prayers will take place in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
On August 9, PA TV ran an official statement by Palestinian religious leaders stating that, “It is necessary to close all the mosques of the city of Jerusalem on Sunday in order to mobilize as many people as possible to pray in the blessed Al-Aksa Mosque and its plazas.” Ultimately, Jews were allowed on the Temple Mount in small groups. According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, some 150,000 people visited the Western Wall between Friday night and sundown on Sunday, with several thousand ascending the Temple Mount.