‘Dangerous escalation’ – Police clash with Temple Mount rioters, 3 arrested

Hamas calls Israeli police clearing Al-Aqsa Mosque a “Zionist attack,” tries to incite Palestinians into committing terror attacks.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Israeli police removed worshippers overnight Saturday from the Al-Aqsa Mosque who were planning to attack Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount on Sunday morning, detaining three people.

On Friday, some 100,000 worshippers arrived at the Temple Mount compound for the first Friday prayers in the month-long Islamic holiday of Ramadan.

According to the Israeli police, worshippers decided to sleep in the mosque, which was a direct violation of an agreement between Israeli authorities and the Waqf – the Islamic guardian of the site.

In a statement, the police said they had intelligence about a small group of young men who barricaded themselves inside the mosque, with the intention of rioting during the dawn hours when Jewish visitors tour the site.

After repeatedly asking them to clear the mosque, the Israeli police entered the structure and arrested at least three people.

Gates to the Temple Mount complex were blocked as the police worked to clear the mosque, and social media footage shows worshippers clashing with security forces as they attempt to enter the compound.

“The occupation forces’ storming of Al-Aqsa and attempts to remove the worshipers from it is a dangerous escalation whose consequences the occupation will bear, and we call upon the masses of our people to set out on their journeys and to gather in its squares,” said Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou in a statement.

Muhammad Hamadeh, Hamas spokesman for Jerusalem, framed the removal of the worshippers as a “Zionist attack” and said that it was “a crime against freedom of worship and an episode in a continuous series of aggression against worshipers and Al-Aqsa.”

Terror groups often claim that Al-Aqsa Mosque is under assault in order to incite Palestinians into committing terror attacks.

Rather than turn down the flames, Waqf official Najeh Bakirat called for more worshippers to spend the night in the mosque – in direct violation of his entity’s understanding with the Israeli police.

Acknowledging that the situation is “more dangerous than ever before,” Barikat told Palestinian media that “things will be hot this year as a result of the daily attacks that are escalating in Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

A perception that Israeli forces were disrespecting Al-Aqsa Mosque was a trigger for the widespread rioting which took place during the May 2021 Israel-Gaza clash Operation Guardian of the Walls.

The first salvos of rockets in that conflict were fired from Gaza towards Jerusalem, in what Hamas claimed was a move to defend the mosque.