Jews barred from Temple Mount; 13 officers wounded
(JNS) Unrest in the Israeli capital continued on Monday morning — Jerusalem Day — with Arab riots on the Temple Mount and in the Old City.
Thirteen Israeli police officers were injured in the clashes, including one who was hospitalized, Army Radio reported. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that more than 200 rioters were injured. The riots were the latest in a series of disturbances that erupted in the city on Friday night, resulting in 18 officers and nearly 300 rioters being injured over the weekend.
At the Lions’ Gate, a group of rioters hurled rocks at an Israeli vehicle from close range, opening its doors and attempting to attack its occupants. During the driver’s attempt to escape, the car mounted the sidewalk, striking one of the assailants. The rioters then set on the vehicle, at which point an Israeli police officer arrived on the scene, firing in the air to disperse the rioters.
“All of the windows were smashed. We were hit with rocks and [pepper] gas in the vehicle. The terrorists opened the doors and hit us,” the driver told Ynet.
CCTV footage showed the moment the Israeli driver was attacked by Palestinians throwing stones, as he rams his vehicle into them.
Earlier on Monday, hundreds of rioters on the Temple Mount hurled rocks and other objects at police, who responded with stun grenades.
In an effort to lower the flames in the city, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai had ordered earlier on Monday that Jewish worshippers be barred from entering the Temple Mount compound for the day.
“The Israel Police will continue to enable freedom of worship, but won’t allow disturbances,” the police said in a statement.
“Thousands of police and Border Police personnel have been deployed since the early morning hours across Jerusalem and the Old City, to safeguard events and the public’s safety,” it added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the situation in the capital on Monday, saying that “a struggle is now being waged for the heart of Jerusalem.”
Speaking at the state memorial ceremony on Mount Herzl for the Ethiopian Jews who died on their way to Israel, Netanyahu noted, “It is the struggle between intolerance and tolerance, between lawbreaking violence and law and order. This struggle is not new, because it has been waged, in effect, over Jerusalem and the heart of Jerusalem for hundreds of years, since the rise of the three monotheistic faiths.
“Sometimes one side was in control and excluded the other two, and sometimes they traded places and the same thing happened. It could be said that in the long history of Jerusalem, only under Israeli sovereignty since 1967, have we witnessed a prolonged, stable and safe period in which we have been working to ensure freedom of worship and tolerance for all,” he added.
Israel was firm in its commitment to ensuring the rights of all, he said, and “this occasionally requires taking a strong stand, as the officers of the Israel Police and our security forces are doing at the moment. We back them in this just struggle.”
The prime minister lamented the “erroneous and misleading” way the events in the city were being portrayed in the global media, but added, “In the end, truth will win.”