Police had their hands full Sunday as Arabs rioted and threw firebombs, fireworks, rocks and other objects at them on the Temple Mount. In a statement, police said that “the conduct of Muslim worshippers and masked rioters made it clear that they were more interested in attacking security forces than in the holiness of their holiday.”
The riots came in the wake of a police decision to allow unfettered access by Muslims to the Temple Mount, reversing an earlier decision that would have limited entrance only to older individuals. As a result, a large number of young men, many with their faces covered, entered the Mount compound and instead of spending the third day of the Eid al-Adha holiday in prayer, used the time to conduct an hours-long attack on police.
Police at first remained off the Mount, attempting to hold back as young Muslims threw stones, firecrackers, and firebombs at them. Finally police entered the Mount via the Mughrabi Gate, chasing down the perpetrators, who took cover inside the Mount's mosques. Police also stationed themselves above the Kotel, concerned that Muslims would begin lobbing rocks and firebombs at the Jews below, as they have done numerous times in the past. Fortunately, police were able to keep the rioters away from the Kotel, where Jews continued to pray uninterrupted.
Police stressed that the members of the Waqf, the Muslim religious group that is supposed to keep order on the Mount, did absolutely nothing to prevent the rioting.
Neither did Arab MKs who were on the Mount at the time the rioting took place – and in fact they exacerbated the rioting, police said. “MK Hanin Zoabi of the Arab Joint List told everyone that 'closing the Mount to Muslims was a dangerous action, and perhaps unprecedented and a declaration of war on Muslims.' Nothing could be further from the truth,” police said. “The Mount was open to all Muslims, meaning that the charge she made that set off a panic was a false one, designed to do nothing but aggravate the feelings of people and cause riots that led to the attacks on security officials and innocent civilians.
“Jerusalem police will continue to keep extra forces in Jerusalem, and especially eastern Jerusalem, and the areas around the Old City and the paths to the Kotel, to ensure the safety of the many Jews who will be visiting the area on the Sukkot holiday,” police said in their statement. “Police and security forces will continue to act against rioters, arrest them, and bring them to justice.”