With Israelis celebrating the 38th anniversary of Jerusalem’s liberation, hundreds of Palestinian teens this morning ran out of the Al Aqsa mosque and stoned a small group of Jews touring the Temple Mount.
Two non-Muslim groups this morning were allowed to ascend the Temple Mount on condition they don’t pray or bring holy objects to the site. As a group of Christians finished a brief tour and smaller group of Jews started theirs, about 300 Palestinian teenagers emerged from Al Aqsa and threw stones at the Jewish crowd.
“They came from Al Aqsa, took off their belts, and ran through the Jewish Israeli group to evict them while trying to throw stones,” Jerusalem police spokesman Shmulik Ben Ruby told WND.
Police quickly fired several stun grenades to disperse the Palestinians and arrested a teenager who tried to attack a Jewish visitor. Two tourists and one police officer were wounded lightly in the incident.
“Our policemen at the Western gate were alert and dealt with the situation. We were expecting this,” Ben Ruby said.
The Temple Mount, under Islamic custodianship, is open to non-Muslims Sundays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m..
On open days, Jews and Christians are allowed to ascend the Mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first to a strict set of guidelines, which includes demands that they not pray or bring any ”holy objects” to the site. Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.
Revava, a Temple Mount activist group, had scheduled a protest at the holy site today, but was banned last night by Israel’s Supreme Court.
In response to the planned Revava rally, Palestinian clerics had told worshipers to hole up in the Al Aqsa Mosque and stop Jews from ascending the Mount, a security official said.
A police source told WND the Waqf may have alerted the Palestinian rioters to the Jewish group’s presence.
“Waqf officials followed the Jewish group and may have been in communication with the teens in Al Aqsa to tell them when to pounce. Someone told them the Jewish group arrived,” said the source.
Palestinian leader Mahmound Abbas told reporters today the Jews should not be allowed on the Mount.
“The Israeli government and the international community must stop these unjustified and dangerous violations. They are to prevent any friction with bad results,” said Abbas.
The Temple Mount was opened to the general public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their planned intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshipers after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.
Following the onset of violence, the new Sharon government closed the Mount to non-Muslims, using checkpoints to control all pedestrian traffic for fear of further clashes with the Palestinians.