Violence engulfed the Temple Mount on Sunday when dozens of masked Muslims attacked Jewish pilgrims and Israeli police officers with firebombs and rocks amid the marking of Tisha B’Av, a Jewish fast day commemorating the destruction of both Jewish Temples that once existed at that holy site.
“The police were attacked immediately upon entering the Temple Mount compound by Palestinians armed with rocks, firebombs, fireworks, and metal pipes,” said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. “Using non-lethal means, officers pushed the assailants into al-Aqsa Mosque—without entering it themselves—to secure the area, and ensure visiting hours could take place without further incident.”
Although Israel gained control of eastern Jerusalem and its holy sites from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War, the Temple Mount is being administered by the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trust overseen by Jordan that limits non-Muslim visitation and bans Jewish prayer. Israel, however, provides security at the site.
Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount, meanwhile, has been on the upswing. In March, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court upheld the right of Jews to pray there in a case involving activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a promoter of Jewish access to the Temple Mount who brought a lawsuit against Israeli police for banning him from visiting the site. Last year, Glick survived an assassination attempt by an Arab terrorist who shot him outside of a Jerusalem conference.
Arab Knesset members from the Joint Arab List party—Masud Gnaim, Abdel-Hakim Haj Yahya, and Taleb Abu Arar—visited the Temple Mount on Sunday, calling the atmosphere on the site “warlike” and blaming the violence on Jewish visitors, whom they called “extremist warmongering settlers who are trying to change the status quo in every way.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said the “acts of violence and terrorism committed” by Arabs at the Temple Mount, especially on Tisha B’Av, “must be condemned unequivocally.”
“I express my support for the security forces and for their determination to prevent any harm or interference to the prayers at the Western Wall, the remnant of our Temple. Such acts of hatred cannot be tolerated, and we will not allow any disturbances to prevent Jews from praying at this holy site,” said Rivlin, the Jerusalem Post reported.