Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount 390.
(photo credit: Ilan Evyatar)
The Temple Mount was the scene of violent clashes Friday, as hundreds of
Palestinian worshipers threw rocks at police near Mugrabi Gate following their
A police official said Saturday that approximately 30,000
Muslims attended the Friday prayer and afterward hundreds of young Palestinians
began throwing rocks at police, forcing officers to use stun grenades to
disperse the crowd.
Three Palestinians were arrested after the clashes
and no officers were seriously harmed, the official said.
earlier, police were forced to close the holy site after two Muslims attacked
two Jewish visitors who sang Hanukka songs there. A video uploaded on the
Internet purports to capture the fight, which began after the Jewish men,
accompanied by a police escort, sang the Hallel prayer and a number of Arabs
promptly confronted them.
Two men from the group then assaulted the
Jewish visitors, resulting in the arrest of all four, police said.
area continues to serve as ground zero in the violent religious tug-of-war
between Muslims and Jews at the holy site.
Although the Supreme Court has
upheld Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount – which is overseen by the Wakf
Muslim religious trust – the court also allows police to prevent any form of
worship there if they believe such activities will incite a “disturbance to the
This caveat has resulted in a contentious debate among
religious Jews and the government, as any form of prayer among Jews there –
including simply moving their lips to appear to be praying – is considered a
“public disturbance” and has resulted in a plethora of detainments.
month, a Knesset Interior Committee meeting to discuss the continued
restrictions Jewish visitors face on the Temple Mount degenerated into a
shouting match, with Arab politicians threatening a third intifada.
some rabbis outlaw ascent to the Temple Mount in absolute terms, others insist
that Jewish prayer at the site is, within certain limits and with proper
preparation, permissible and even laudable.
It is a widely held that Jews
are forbidden from going to the site of the Temple because of ritual impurity
caused by contact with the dead. The religious establishment, principally the
Chief Rabbinate, actively reinforces this notion.
However, at last
month’s Knesset meeting, Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben- Dahan
(Bayit Yehudi) announced he was seeking to reach an agreement with the Chief
Rabbinate to allow Jews to pray there.
Asked what has precipitated the
pronounced uptick in violence, Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said Arabs are
growing increasingly incensed by religious Jews who increasingly illegally pray
there in an act of civil disobedience.
“The Arabs don’t like Jews coming
there to pray, and an extreme group of Jews is going there to provoke them,” he