Temple Mount: Clashes break out for third day

Rocks were piled up on the path taken by Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount in an attempt to block the visitors.

Border Police officer stands in front of the Dome of the Rock, April 18, 2022 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Border Police officer stands in front of the Dome of the Rock, April 18, 2022
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Clashes broke out on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif on Monday morning for the third day in a week, as Jewish visitors visited the site and worshippers gathered for the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall.

Photos from the Temple Mount showed rocks piled up on the path taken by Jewish visitors to the site in an attempt to block the visitors.

Rubber bullets were reportedly fired by Israeli forces as they pushed Arab visitors into the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa, breaking some of the windows of the al-Aqsa Mosque.

As one of the groups of Jewish visitors walked in the site, Arab women standing near the Dome of the Rock began shouting "Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud" (a chant referencing the battle between Mohammed and a Jewish community in Khaybar in 628 CE), according to video shared on social media. The Jewish visitors responded by shouting "The people of Israel live," "Amalek," "Nakba," and "Abu Khdeir" (an apparent reference to the kidnapping and murder of an Arab by Israeli Jews in 2014).

Israel Police chief Yaakov "Kobi" Shabtai conducted a situation assessment in Jerusalem on Monday after the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall, saying: "The many arrests made in the last days of the riots, prove that the Israel Police are not afraid to act resolutely and forcefully against anyone who tries to harm security and incite violence."

 Priestly blessing at the Western Wall during Passover, April 18, 2022 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Priestly blessing at the Western Wall during Passover, April 18, 2022 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

"These days we are investing operational forces of the Israel Police in the Jerusalem district, and we are still continuing to maintain a force in the other police districts as well," added Shabtai. "There are quite a few events and attempts to ignite the field and not just in Jerusalem."

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also referenced the violence in recent days on Monday, tweeting, "In the past week, there has been a wild campaign of incitement against us, led by Hamas. Here's the truth: Israel is doing everything so that everyone, as always, can celebrate the holidays safely — Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We expect everyone not to join in the lies and certainly not to encourage violence against Jews. The State of Israel will continue to keep our capital Jerusalem open to all."

While evening prayers at al-Aqsa passed quietly on Monday, Palestinian media claimed that Arabs were being prevented from reaching the complex later in the night.

Right wing groups, including the Old City Youth, announced on Monday that they had requested that Israel Police allow them to hold a flag march around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Last year, rockets were fired towards Jerusalem amid riots in the Old City and on the Temple Mount and the Jerusalem Day flag march.

The families of Israelis who were killed in terrorist attacks in Homesh announced on Monday that they would be marching to Homesh on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Bar Lev decides to make getting a gun license easier

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev decided on Monday afternoon to make it easier for Israelis to get a gun license. According to the decision, those who served in operational positions in Border Police and Israel Police will be able to get a gun license, in accordance with existing regulations.

"The decision is intended to correct a distortion that prevented Border Police fighters and Israeli police officers from obtaining a license for private weapons after their release," said Bar Lev. "This is an absurd situation, since these officers are very skilled with weapons, especially in populated areas - a situation we have unfortunately encountered in recent terrorist attacks. Then greater skill is required in the use of a private pistol against terrorists, and this answer can be given by those who served as officers in the Border Police and Israel Police."

Operation 'Break the Wave' continues in the West Bank

The IDF, Shin Bet and Israeli security forces arrested 11 suspects while operating in the West Bank early Monday morning as part of Operation Break the Wave.

In Husan, Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians suspected of attacking an Israeli civilian and burning his car last week.

IDF operates in West Bank against terrorism suspects, April 18, 2022 (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

In Yamoun, Israeli forces arrested one suspect, with violent riots breaking out as they conducted the arrest. Dozens of Palestinians threw stones and explosives and shot towards the soldiers. The soldiers shot towards suspects who attempted to throw explosives at them, hitting a number of them.

According to the Red Crescent, six Palestinians were injured in the clashes in Yamoun, with four of them shot by live bullets.

Later in the day, a Palestinian was shot in the leg by Israeli forces near the Seam Line south of Jenin, according to Palestinian reports.

A Palestinian was also shot by Israeli forces near Qarawat Bani Zeid, north of Ramallah, according to Palestinian reports. His condition is unclear.

A Palestinian was shot during clashes in Beit Einun, north of Hebron, on Monday night. His condition is as of yet unclear. Clashes were reported between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Bayt Furik near Nablus, al-Arroub near Hebron and Fasa'il near Jericho as well on Monday night.

In Hebron, the Tomb of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque was closed to Muslims on Monday to allow Jewish worshippers to enter the part of the shrine which is usually closed off to Jews. The tomb is closed on certain holidays to Jewish visitors and certain holidays to Muslim visitors every year.

The Jewish community in Hebron hosted a concert near the Tomb of the Patriarch on Monday as well.

Hamas responded with outrage to the closure of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, calling on Palestinians in the West Bank to "mobilize" in order to "stop the violations of the occupation against the Ibrahimi Mosque."

Rocket fired from Gaza into Israel

Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Ziyad al-Nakhala warned on Monday that threats to stop the relaxation of restrictions on the Gaza Strip "cannot make us remain silent about what is happening in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank."

A rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel later on Monday, setting off sirens in Kissufim and Ein Hashlosha. The rocket was intercepted.

The US State Department is “deeply concerned” by the recent violence “in Jerusalem, on the Haram al-Sharif - Temple Mount, and across the West Bank,” said Spokesperson Ned Price on Monday night. “We continue to call on all sides to exercise restraint, to avoid provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif - Temple Mount,” he said.

He went on to say that the US also continue “to urge Israeli and Palestinian officials to work cooperatively to lower tensions and ensure the safety of everyone.”

“This department continues to closely follow the situation and continues to be in close contact with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, to seek to deescalate tensions,” he continued. “A number of senior officials across this government, and our ambassadors in capitals across the Middle East were engaged in a series of phone calls, including at very high levels over the weekends with our Israeli partners, with our Palestinian counterparts, with other Arab representatives in the region, including our Jordanian partners, in an effort to see to it that these tensions do not escalate,” Price said.

“We have urged all sides to preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif - Temple Mount both in word and in practice and to avoid steps that may be provocative, and that may inflame tensions even further,” he added. 

Omri Nahmias contributed to this report.