Hundreds riot at Temple Mount

Eleven police officers lightly injured as tension in Old City continues.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
February 24, 2012 13:39
2 minute read.
Clashes on Temple Mount (in 2010)

Palestinians, Israeli police clash at Temple Mount 311 (R). (photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)

 
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Security personnel used force to disperse hundreds of Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount on Friday who rioted and threw stones following a tense week in the Old City. Eleven police officers were lightly injured and treated at the scene. A total of ten protesters were arrested, though a number of additional arrests are expected.

A number of youth barricaded themselves inside the mosque during the rioting, and dozens of police who responded to the incident used stun grenades and other riot-control methods to disperse the crowd.

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The security forces entered the Temple Mount after police officers were attacked at the Mugrabi Gate, one of the entrances to the Temple Mount, in order to stop the crowd from throwing more stones onto the Western Wall plaza below.

Friday’s violence at the Temple Mount was part of a series of disturbances starting two weeks ago, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Twenty four people were arrested over the course of the week for rock-throwing episodes at the Temple Mount on Sunday, when a group of approximately 50 Arabs threw stones at Christian tourists and police patrols, prompted by reports in the Jordanian press of more attempts by right-wing activists to ascend to the Temple Mount.

Members of the Arab press, including Palestinian and Jordanian newspapers, wrote a number of inflammatory articles about right-wing attempts to exert sovereignty over the Temple Mount, which incited worshipers to riot on Friday following weekly prayers.

“What happened today was a continuation of tension in and around the Old City and Temple Mount due to what was put out on the Internet by both right-wing extremists and terrorist organizations,” said Rosenfeld.

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A website called “Our Temple Mount” has publicized a number of events at the Temple Mount encouraging religious Jews to go up to the site in order to exercise Jewish sovereignty over the religious area. The site advocates for destroying any Muslim buildings in order to rebuild the Third Temple.

“Purify the site from the enemies of Israel who stole the land, and build the Third Temple on the ruins of the mosques,” a flyer read.

Two weeks ago, the website called for members of the Likud Central Committee to join Likud primary candidate Moshe Feiglin at the Temple Mount on his monthly visit.

Feiglin and two activists were denied access and the site was closed to non-Muslims amid fears of incitement.

Rosenfeld said police were prepared for the possibility of disturbances following the reports, but did not limit entry to the Temple Mount to men over the age of 50 who have blue Israeli IDs, which is common practice for when authorities are concerned about riots.

Rosenfeld said the Temple Mount is currently expected to open to non-Muslim visitors as usual on Sunday morning, but that could change.

“Over the weekend, police will be assessing the security situation and deciding what measures will be implemented next week,” he said.

Police raided an apartment in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood overnight on Monday and found extremist right-wing materials related to the Temple Mount, including flyers from an extremist website.

Police arrested one activist and took him in for questioning. The activist is known to police as one of the central figures related the extremist website “Our Temple Mount,” said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby.

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