Moment of truth: Israeli police call for reinforcements, fearing renewed Arab rioting

Israeli intelligence estimates say riots are possible after Friday prayers on the Temple Mount. 

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli police are readying reinforcements ahead of what is expected to be a tense weekend in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel Hayom reports Wednesday.

“Hundreds of policemen, some of them reinforcements from other districts, will be deployed on Friday morning in the Temple Mount area and in the alleys of the Old City to maintain order and allow freedom of worship,” Israel Hayom reports.

Arabs have rioted since mid-April with most of the violence focused around the Damascus Gate.  Arabs say they are protesting the fact that Israeli police had set up barricades on steps near the gate to prevent people from congregating after Iftar, the traditional meal breaking the day-long fast that Muslims observe for a month during Ramadan.

Israeli police have since removed the barricades, insisting it was the right decision as violence has abated. Right-wing Knesset members, however, have criticized the police for kowtowing to the rioters.

However, the barricades might just be a pretext as Arabs have a history of violence during Ramadan. They have clashed with police in Jerusalem in 2019, 2017 and 2016.

Last weekend was particularly violent as Arabs rioted on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Late Friday, dozens of Palestinians marched toward an entrance to the walled Old City of Jerusalem and threw stones and other items at officers.

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Israeli police have cracked down on the rioters in an attempt to regain control of the situation. On Sunday, the police said they had arrested 17 people suspected of involvement in the violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem that began on April 13, the start of Ramadan.

Senior police officials say that this Friday will be a “test” of whether the calm holds that began this Tuesday, Israel Hayom reports. Police intelligence estimates say there is a chance of violence after the Friday night prayers, however.

Assuming they pass Friday’s test, the next day police are concerned about is Jerusalem Day, which begins on the evening of May 9. An Israeli national holiday, it celebrates the reunification of the city after the Six Day War.

Israelis typically march through a heavily Arab part of the Old City in a large procession. The event is heavily policed.