Arab MKs joined a mob that tried to rush Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount, witnesses said Sunday. The incident occurred after a Jewish group had left the Mount area, and an Arab was seen holding a stone and chasing after the group.
Police closed in on the Arab and attempted to arrest him, but instead of running, he fell down to the ground and started screaming – as if police were beating him, even though no one raised a hand to him, the witnesses said. Police said in a statement later that “officers remained calm and did not allow themselves to be drawn into the developing provocation.”
The screaming was enough to alert a large group of young men, however, and these began rushing police, calling them names in Arabic and demanding that they leave. One officer was physically assaulted by the mob.
Among the members of the mob, police said, were several Arab MKs, who joined in the cursing and screaming. Police were unable to say whether they participated in the beating of the officer as well, although that point is being investigated. Police did not name the MKs involved, but said that their identities had been confirmed.
“We see this incident as a very serious matter and we intend to carry out an investigation as the law requires,” police said in a statement. “We will continue to work to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount, and we will not allow anyone to endanger the safety and security of the public. We will certainly not allow an attack on police who do their job loyally to pass without an appropriate response,” the statement said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu defended Israel's right to defend itself on Sunday, after the Arab world condemned the Jewish state for protecting itself during an Arab mob attack on the Temple Mount. "Israel will act by any means to maintain the status quo and the law and order on the Temple Mount," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement. "This is the duty and right to take action against lawbreakers to allow freedom of worship in this holy place.
"Therefore, we will act firmly against rock-throwers, Molotov cocktails and throwing pipe bombs or those using other weapons," he added.