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Three Police Hurt in Holiday Eve Melee on Temple Mount

reposted from The Times of Israel
October 8, 2014 Tishri 14, 5775

Masked rioters at holy site throw Molotov cocktails, stones at officers as gate opened to non-Muslim visitors ahead of Sukkot; calm restored by authorities

by Lazar Berman

According to police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld, when officers opened the Mughrabi Gate for non-Muslims to enter the compound, Arab rioters began throwing objects at the police force. They cleared out the rioters and restored calm to the site.

The esplanade remained opened to visitors, Rosenfeld said.

The clash came as Israeli Jews prepared for the holiday of Sukkot, which begins Wednesday night. Many Jews have the custom of visiting the Temple Mount on holiday eves, ramping up tensions on the contested site.

The Mughrabi Gate has been the site of frequent clashes between Israeli security forces and Muslim worshipers, due to a commonly perceived belief among the local Islamic community of Jewish encroachment onto the Temple Mount.

Last month saw violent clashes in and around the Temple Mount compound ahead of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

The clashes came amid an uptick in inter-ethnic violence in Jerusalem over the past several months, with incidents of East Jerusalem rioters hurling stones and Molotov cocktails and using fireworks as a weapon.

Police have cracked down on the protests, arresting suspected rioters in overnight sweeps and bolstering their presence in flashpoint areas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered police to up patrols in East Jerusalem Tuesday, saying he would not allow riots to become the norm, Israel Radio reported.

The Temple Mount, which holds the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, is considered the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest site for Jews as it was the location of the two ancient Jewish temples.

In September, an addition to the Mughrabi Bridge meant to boost the flow of non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount was dismantled after it was deemed “illegal” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The move, which was praised by Jordan and the Islamic authorities of the site, was seen by some as an attempt to decrease tensions.

Justin Jalil and Spencer Ho contributed to this report.



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