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June 2, 2019 10:43 am

Israeli Police Quell Temple Mount Riots After Jewish Visitors Enter for Jerusalem Day

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli policemen run with their weapons during clashes with Palestinians on “Jerusalem Day” on the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, June 2, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad.

Riots broke out on the Temple Mount on Sunday after the Israel Police permitted Jewish visitors to enter the site in honor of Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the reunification of the city in 1967.

The Jerusalem district commander, Doron Yedid, ordered security personnel to enter the site and disperse the rioters. Police stated that they pushed the rioters back toward the al-Aqsa mosque, where they barricaded themselves. They were eventually dispersed successfully and several arrests were made.

The Islamic Waqf, which manages the site, blasted the police and said, “the violation of the sanctity of al-Aqsa by the occupation is an attack on the feelings of Muslims all over the world, not only in Palestine, we call on Muslims to come to the mosque and protect it from desecration.”

Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that Jordan, which officially administers the site, also attacked Israel, with the Foreign Ministry issuing a statement saying, “We strongly condemn the continued Israeli violations against al-Aqsa.”

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The ministry warned of “the dangerous consequences of provocative Israeli policies, which could lead to a new escalation of violence that would threaten the entire region.”

It emphasized what it called “the need to compel Israel, as an occupying power, to honor and fulfill its obligations under international law, and to cease its provocative conduct against the Temple Mount and to respect the Muslim feelings in this holy place.”

A senior Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, claimed the violence was the result of an attack by “settlers” and called it “a serious escalation and a violation of the sanctity of religion and the holy places that will have repercussions. The leaders of the Muslim nation and the international community face a real test in light of this escalation.”

Tensions were expected due to Jerusalem Day falling during the end of Ramadan for the first time in 30 years. A Temple Mount activist group petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to be allowed entrance to the site, which the Court approved.

The government warned the court that “the assessment of the Israel Police is that the friction between the two populations during the month of Ramadan is almost certainly liable to cause severe disturbances on the Temple Mount. In addition, these riots may spread far beyond the Temple Mount.”

However, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that his position “was and remains that everything should be done to allow Jews and those of other religions to ascend to the Temple Mount as is customary during the year, and especially on Jerusalem Day.”

Following the riots, Erdan said, “My policy is from my first day in office to do everything in order to keep the Temple Mount open, certainly on a day like today. I hope that both Ramadan and Jerusalem Day will end peacefully.”

The Supreme Court also rejected a petition to prevent a traditional march by religious Zionists to mark Jerusalem Day, which passes through the Muslim Quarter on its way to the Western Wall.

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