Sivan 27, 5774, 25/06/14
by Shimon Cohen, Ari Yashar
Hundreds of Arab visitors to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, surrounded and harassed a group of Jews visiting the site on Wednesday morning.
The group's guide, Asaf Fried, told Arutz Sheva about the incident in which Arab rioters shouted at the Jews, chanting "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is great"), and holding up three fingers in a celebratory sign of the three Israeli teens kidnapped two weeks ago.
Fried told Arutz Sheva that in the 22 years that he has been visited the Mount, he has never seen such a serious and shocking breaching of the public order.
Israeli police authorized the visit of Fried's large group of Jews who came from around Israel, but the harassment began soon after they ascended to the Mount.
"We're already used to them shouting at us," said Friend, noting that police directives mandate that when faced by Arab shouting, Jewish groups are to advance quickly and try to escape the Arab visitors.
This time however things got out of hand, as more and more Arab rioters joined the jeering mob as the Jewish group advanced.
"It started with children in a Hamas summer camp, continued with women who joined and slowly the wave of attackers swelled. More and more older people joined the calls of 'Khaybar Khaybar O Jews,'" said Fried, noting an anti-Semitic Muslim call recalling an alleged massacre of Jews in Mohammed's times.
Fried reported that the Muslim rioters threw shoes, along with the shouts and curses. Eventually the deafening din caused Fried to stop trying to provide the group he was guiding with information about the holy site, given that he simply could not be heard.
Police tried to separate between the approaching Arab rioters and the Jewish group, with more officers showing up as the situation grew quickly out of the control.
However, Fried reports that the roughly 40 officers' attempt to separate collapsed in the face of the hundreds of Arab rioters. At that point, the police occupied themselves with hurrying the Jewish group off of the Mount as quickly as possible.
"We can't pray, but they can curse and throw things"
"It wasn't just an unpleasant feeling, but rather a feeling that at any second someone could whip out a knife and stab someone. The local rules of visiting prevent us from praying out loud and we are forced to receive those rules and pray in our hearts, but they are allowed to curse, shout and throw things at us," said Fried, summarizing the discriminatory status quo.
Fried reports that the police avoid arresting Arab rioters or those leading the mob so as to "keep the quiet," and that if any arrests occur, the rioters are quickly released out of a fear of Arab repercussions.
"The Arabs understand that. They feel in charge. They're manipulating the kidnapping and the minor Israeli response - they feel they are winning. I would expect as punishment for the kidnapping that the Arab movement on the Mount be arrested, or at least that the Hamas summer camp on the Mount would be stopped," said Fried.
The visitors to the Mount in Fried's group report that the incident gave them a fuller understanding as to the current reality of the holy site, which is under the de facto control of the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust).
Interior Committee keeping "status quo"
There has been an ongoing discussion about Jewish prayer rights on the Mount, with a meeting on the topic held by a sub-committee of the Interior Committee a day earlier on Tuesday. Fried remarked that the debate about rights has given Hamas a free hand to take over the site by creating a reality on the ground.
Fried lamented the words of Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino at the Committee meeting on Tuesday, in which he said "police blocked entrance to the Temple Mount on Friday to 30,000 Arabs; that's a number larger than all the Jews who ascended the Mount since the Six Day War" when the site was liberated by Israel.
The statement reveals the reason why Arab visitors feel in charge of the site, says Fried, adding "those who don't ascend (the Mount) give the site to Hamas."
MK Zevulun Kalfa (Jewish Home), a member of the sub-committee on the Temple Mount, opposed the Committee recommendations to keep the status quo of the Temple Mount, even though those recommendations were from members of his own Jewish Home party.
Kalfa noted that one suggestion of the Committee was to maintain the practice of closing the Mount to Jewish visitors after Arab mobs riot there, an event that has often repeated itself. Additionally, the Committee decided to let the Waqf charge tourists to visit the Mount.
The MK argued that Hamas has been given control of the holiest site in Judaism.