A large Hamas banner featuring a greeting for Eid al-Fitr and a photo of a Hamas terrorist was raised on the Temple Mount on Monday morning, as over 200,000 Arabs visited the site to celebrate the holiday marking the end of the Ramadan month of fasting.
حدى بوائك قبة الصخرة بالمسجد الأقصى المبارك pic.twitter.com/b1cVNWCMLj
— AlQastal القسطل (@AlQastalps) May 2, 2022
Cheering could be heard as the banner was hung near the Dome of the Rock. Israel Police stated that it was removed shortly after it was raised and that the police were working to identify those involved in raising it. A livestream from the Temple Mount showed the banner up for at least 20 minutes. Israel Police stated on Monday afternoon that they had arrested one of the people suspected of being involved in hanging the Hamas banner.
هتافات الشبان قرب قبة الصخرة بالمسجد الأقصى المبارك صباح اليوم قبل صلاة العيد pic.twitter.com/Jv3q0J1BRK— AlQastal القسطل (@AlQastalps) May 2, 2022
Flags of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas were also waved by visitors to the site as they chanted a number of slogans, including "Khaybar, Khaybar ya yahud," which tells Jews to remember the battle at an oasis in present day Saudi Arabia where the Jewish community surrendered to Mohammed in 628 CE. The chant is often used to incite violence against Jews.
The Israel Police stated on Monday that it had arrested a suspect from Kafr 'Aqab who had set fire to an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount over the weekend. Additionally, a suspect who had stepped on one near Maale Adumim was arrested as well.
"We take seriously any violation of the symbols of the government and the flag of the State of Israel or the support and encouragement of terrorist organizations," the police said.
"The police are constantly working against those criminals and outlaws in order to bring them to justice," they said. "Recently, police forces have arrested many suspects for conducting violent riots at the Temple Mount, including those suspected of hoisting and holding Hamas flags. We will continue to act resolutely against lawbreakers and violators wherever they are."
Tensions on the Temple Mount
Tensions around the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa Mosque have heightened in recent weeks, amid clashes between Israeli security forces and Arab rioters at the site.
On Saturday, Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, warned Israel against "attacking" al-Aqsa Mosque, claiming that the movement would fire a barrage of 1,111 rockets in the next conflict with Israel.
"Our people and our nation must prepare for a big battle if the occupation does not stop attacking al-Aqsa Mosque," said Sinwar. "Harming al-Aqsa and Jerusalem means a regional war, and we will not hesitate to make any decision with our sanctities."
The Hamas leader addressed the other Palestinian factions in Gaza, saying that they must be on alert "because the battle did not end with the end of Ramadan, but will really begin with its end."
Sinwar additionally claimed that Israelis plan to "storm" al-Aqsa Mosque on either Israeli Independence Day or Jerusalem Day. Palestinian officials often refer to Jewish visits to Jewish holy sites as "storming."
Jewish visitors to the site do not enter the mosque but instead walk on a set path around the Temple Mount. The Joint Headquarters of Temple Mount Organizations launched a campaign in recent days demanding that the government reopen the mount to Jewish visitors on Israeli Independence Day, which will be marked on Thursday.
As of Monday morning, the complex remained closed to Jewish visitors due to Eid al-Fitr and recent unrest, with police not having announced as of yet when the site will be reopened to them.