Friday prayers end in riots on Temple Mount

Following Friday prayers, hundreds of Arab worshipers hurl stones; none hurt; police disperse crowd using stun grenades.

Police Temple Mount riots 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Police Temple Mount riots 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Hundreds of Muslims threw stones at police officers on the Temple Mount on Friday afternoon, following a week of confrontations between rightwing Jews and Muslims there.
Police arrested 14 Jews and Arabs last week, including Likud activist Moshe Feiglin, for incidents involving violence and refusing to obey police officers.
Toward the end of Friday prayers, hundreds of Muslims streamed out of al-Aksa Mosque and started throwing stones at soldiers and border police, Jerusalem deputy police spokesman Shlomit Bajshi said.
Police responded with force, including stun grenades. The stone-throwers wounded two people.
An Arab man tried to stab a police officer next to one of the gates leading to the Temple Mount, national police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The knife was recovered and the man was arrested.
Rioters on the Mount threw rocks in the direction of the Western Wall Plaza, but police officers were able to stop them before any rocks reached Jewish worshipers below.
Police had anticipated possible disturbances, heightening security and bringing extra units of police, border police and soldiers both in the area of the Temple Mount and at Mugrabi Gate (the only entrance to the Mount for non-Muslims), Rosenfeld said. However, there were no age restrictions placed on the Muslim worshipers, such as limiting entrance to females and to men over age 40, a common practice when police expect riots.
Police expect a “wave of arrests” in the coming days of people involved in Friday’s violence, Rosenfeld said.
Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz called on the public to continue to come to the Western Wall during Succot, which is one of the pilgrimage holidays when Jews traditionally visit the Western Wall. The Western Wall Plaza was filled with thousands of people during the riot on Friday and police did not evacuate them, he said.
An estimated 50,000 Jews crowded into the plaza on Wednesday morning for the Blessing of the Priests (Birkat Hakohanim). More than one million visitors from Israel and abroad are expected to pass through Jerusalem during the week of Succot, which ends A federal judge has ordered on Monday.