Cheshvan 7, 5770, 25 October 09
by Hana Levi Julian
Nine police officers were hurt Sunday as sporadic violence by rioting Arabs continued on and around the Temple Mount.
Arab worshipers hurled rocks and bottles at security forces as they attempted to stem the violence that had begun earlier in the morning in response to calls by the Islamic leadership to "defend" the site from "right wing" Jews. Israel Police officers were forced to use stun grenades and water cannons to try to disperse the mob, which included some 100 youths and adults that had gathered inside the Al-Aksa mosque.
The police officers were hit by the rocks as they were talking to officials from the Waqf Islamic Authority in an attempt to persuade the youths and adults who were barricaded inside the mosque to come out. The police officers had promised not to arrest them if they would leave the Temple Mount area. Two officers were treated at the scene for their injuries; a third was evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Minutes after police arrested 12 suspects - three at the site itself, and 9 others at the entrance and the area around it - a firebomb was thrown at police officers who entered the Temple Mount. By 4:00 p.m., a total of 18 suspects had been arrested.
A journalist from Australia was lightly wounded and was treated on the scene by Magen David Adom emergency medics after being hit by a rock hurled by an Arab. A reporter for Arutz Sheva's Hebrew new service, Chezki Ezra, also had a close call during the violence. As he was calling in a report on the rioting, Ezra, who was standing near an entrance to the Mount, was rushed by rioting Arabs, who began attacking him and interfering with the broadcast. Police and Border Police troops arrived and managed to push the mob back.
The rioting Arabs also poured oil on the floor stones of the Mount, in order to cause police to slip and fall while trying to stop the violence. Although Palestinian Authority Arabs and the Waqf Islamic Authority claimed at least eight worshipers had been hurt, police said they had received no reports at all of any injuries.
The site was immediately closed to both Arabs and Jews. A spokesman for Israel Police told Israel National News that worship at the nearby Western Wall was unaffected by the melee.
The violence later spread to other parts of the Old City as well, with Arabs lurking in alleyways and hurling rocks at passersby and police officers throughout the area. The violence on the Temple Mount was eventually quelled, re-ignited, then again was stopped by police who remained deployed at the site.
Jerusalem police had already been on high alert due to calls over the weekend by Arab groups in the eastern section of the capital and in the north of the country to "defend" the Temple Mount from "conquest by radical [Jewish] right wing elements." The Islamic Movement had announced that it would make buses available to those who wished to attend services at the Temple Mount mosque on Sunday.
Extra police forces were deployed at the site to prevent problems; despite the concern, Arab worshipers of all ages had nonetheless been allowed to enter the site to worship at the mosques as usual. Following the early morning disturbances, Magen David Adom medical emergency service initiated a standard alert level in Jerusalem and beefed up the number of rescue vehicles available in the capital.
Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen told reporters at a late-morning news conference that police would respond with a heavy hand to the violence, which he accused the Islamic Movement of inciting.
A gathering initiated by Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick was scheduled for Sunday evening at the Heichal Shlomo hall in Jerusalem to raise awareness among Jews about the importance of visiting the site. Glick said that encouraging more Jews to visit the Temple Mount was the natural result of the violent attempts by Muslims to prevent Jews from visiting the site over the recent holiday of Sukkot.