Clashes come amid Jordanian efforts to change holy site’s status quo.
By David Hellerman, World Israel News
Violent clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli police on the Temple Mount on Friday morning, the last Friday of the Muslim month of Ramadan.
As with previous Friday violence, the rioting began at the end of Friday prayers, with Palestinians throwing stones and firecrackers at police and at Jews worshipping at the Western Wall below. Police said at least one stone landed in in the Western Wall plaza, though no injuries were reported.
Some of the Palestinians waved Hamas flags while others chanted, “We will sacrifice our lives for Al Aqsa.”
Calm was restored after an hour when other Palestinians on the esplanade prevailed upon the rioters and police to pull back, Hebrew media reports said.
According to Palestinian Red Crescent, 42 Palestinians were injured, though none seriously.
“All violence should be condemned, but even more so in a holy site,” said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the chief rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.
“This is not what prayer looks like. This is certainly not what faith in God looks like – harming and throwing stones on innocent worshippers,” he stressed.
This year, Ramadan overlapped with the Jewish Passover holiday and the Christian holiday of Easter.
According to a Dutch study cited by the Jerusalem Post, “Ramadan brought with it a 200% increase in terrorist attacks in Israel between 2005 and 2016.” A wave of terror attacks by Palestinians and Arab-Israelis starting just before Ramadan has killed 14 people.
The riots come amid reports that Jordan is seeking to have responsibility for the holy site’s security transferred from Israel to the Islamic Waqf, which administers the Temple Mount on a daily basis. Jordan also wants to restrict the size of non-Muslim groups visiting the Temple Mount and the areas of the esplanade they can access.
The Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site, where the Temples of Solomon and Herod stood.
After Israel captured the site during the Six-Day War of 1967, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Arab leaders agreed to a status quo in which Israel would retain sovereignty and security responsibility for the esplanade, while the Islamic Waqf would administer the holy site’s daily affairs.
The status quo also had Jordan funding and overseeing the Waqf’s activities. This relationship was enshrined in the Israel-Jordan peace treaty of 1994.
At Iran’s initiative, the last Friday of Ramadan has also become known as Quds Day, to express solidarity with the Palestinians and opposition to Israel.