New Clashes at Site in Jerusalem Holy to Both Muslims and Jews
JERUSALEM — Two Israeli police officers were slightly injured in a clash at a holy site in Jerusalem that erupted during a demonstration after Friday Prayer, and one Arab protester was arrested.
The protest occurred several days after a Jewish hard-liner was accused of breaking the ban against Jews praying at the fiercely contested site, called the Temple Mount by Jews and the Noble Sanctuary by Muslims.
Hundreds of Muslims emerged from Al Aksa Mosque on Friday chanting slogans against Jewish extremists and throwing stones at police officers, according to witnesses and the authorities. Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said officers “dispersed the rioters with stun grenades,” though journalists on the scene said tear gas was also deployed.
Mr. Rosenfeld said that one man, an Arab citizen of Israel, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to stab a police officer, and that the police expected to make further “arrests in the coming days of those who were involved in the disturbances.”
Religious Jews revere the site as the location of their ancient temples; for Muslims, it is the third holiest site in the world. The second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, was set off in 2000 by a visit to the site by Ariel Sharon, then the Likud Party leader.
Since Israel captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 war, the compound has been operated by the Waqf, the Muslim religious endowment, with security provided by Israel. Jews are allowed to visit the site, except on Fridays, but not to pray there.
The friction on Friday appears to have been tied a visit there on Tuesday by about 500 Jews. During that visit, Moshe Feiglin, a right-wing activist who frequently visits the site, was arrested after he laid on the ground, against police orders, Mr. Rosenfeld said.
On Wednesday, five Israeli Arabs were arrested on suspicion of attempting to attack visiting Jews, Mr. Rosenfeld said; one Jew was also arrested that day for not following police orders to leave as the Arabs approached.
Khaled Abu Aker and Isabel Kershner contributed reporting.
But is this true?
The second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, was set off in 2000 by a visit to the site by Ariel Sharon, then the Likud Party leader.
Remember, the first Israeli casualty was the previous day:
Sept 27, 2000 - Sgt. David Biri, 19, of Jerusalem, was fatally wounded in a bombing near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip.
And these details:
C. The visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, 28 September 2000
164. ...the groundwork for violence had been laid by the Palestinian leadership well before the visit by Opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount on Thursday, 28 September 2000. The visit was not the cause of the violence. As there has been a good deal of dissembling associated with the visit of Mr Sharon to the Temple Mount, it may be helpful to the Committee if key aspects of this event are described more fully.
165. Mr Sharon, the leader of the Opposition in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, published his intention to visit the Temple Mount on 24 September 2000, four days prior to the intended visit. The declared purpose of the visit was to examine archaeological sites on the Temple Mount following work that had been carried out by the Muslim Wakf, notably in the area of Solomon's Stables...At the time of announcing his intention to visit the area, Mr Sharon indicated that he would be accompanied by archaeologists from the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
170. The sensitivity of and risks associated with the proposed visit by Mr Sharon to the Temple Mount were clear to all. It was evident that there would be elements within the Palestinian community who would oppose the visit and might seek to prevent it. The timing of the visit was also sensitive insofar as it preceded by only a few days the Jewish New Year, a period in which Jewish families traditionally visit the Western Wall which stands at the foot of the Temple Mount.
171. While the possibility of prohibiting the visit was considered, freedom of access to "sacred places" is expressly enshrined in Israeli legislation and Supreme Court decisions. Freedom of movement of Members of the Knesset, save for reasons of national security, is also expressly provided for in Israeli law. The scope for prohibiting the visit was thus limited.
172. Against this background, the relevant Israeli authorities consulted with the Palestinian side...The Palestinian side was presented with the route of the proposed visit - as indicated on Aerial Photograph No.1. It was affirmed that Mr Sharon would visit the area in the same way as would any non-Muslim visitor (the Temple Mount being generally open to public access). The relevant Israeli authorities also promised that no attempt would be made to restrict Muslim freedom of access to the Temple Mount during the visit...
173. The consultations with the Palestinian side included a telephone conversation on the proposed visit between Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and the Head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Organisation in the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, on 26 September 2000 in which, by reference to the contemporaneous note of the conversation, Mr Rajoub indicated "if Mr Sharon refrains from entering the Mosques on Temple Mount, there wouldn't be any problem." On the basis of this consultation and other measures adopted, the visit was not prohibited.
174. ...a communique published by Hamas on 27 September, the day prior to the visit, [stated] inter alia as follows: "The Jews have clearly and unequivocally declared their ambition in continuing occupation of Jerusalem and the holy Aqsa Mosque. It is quite clear that plans to demolish the Aqsa Mosque and build the so-called Jewish temple in its place were no longer the aspirations of limited or extremist groups in the Zionist society, as some believed...
We call on our people to head tomorrow Thursday to the holy Aqsa Mosque to confront the terrorist Sharon and prevent him from entering the Mosque and its yards...
175. Other declarations and communiques calling for opposition to the Sharon visit were published by Fatah, the principal political-military grouping within the PLO answerable directly to Yasser Arafat, and by others.
176. On the day of the visit, Muslim morning prayers on the Temple Mount took place at around 5.54 am and passed without incident. From around 7.00 am, political figures - both Israeli supporters and detractors of the visit and Palestinian leaders - began arriving on the scene. Palestinian youth - eventually numbering around 1,500 - also began arriving, shouting slogans in an attempt to inflame the situation. Some 1,500 Israeli police were present at the scene in order to forestall violence.
177. Mr Sharon arrived at the Temple Mount at 7.57 am. There were limited disturbances during the visit, mostly involving stone throwing. The visit lasted 34 minutes, ending at 8.31 am. Mr Sharon visited the site during normal hours in which it was open to tourists. He made no attempt to enter the Mosques.
178. During the remainder of the day, outbreaks of stone throwing continued on the Temple Mount and in the vicinity leaving 28 Israeli policemen injured, three of whom were hospitalised. There are no accounts of Palestinian injuries on that day...
D. Conclusions in respect of this Part
180. There is a widespread belief, actively advanced by the Palestinian side, that demonstrations by Palestinian youth took place spontaneously in reaction to the visit by Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount. That belief is fundamentally flawed. The visit by Mr Sharon, however sensitive, was not the cause of the violence. It was an excuse for a violent campaign, the groundwork for which had already been laid by the Palestinian leadership. The object of the violence was the creation of new facts on the ground - the bringing about of a new reality to bolster the Palestinian position in its relations with Israel. The means to this end were the inevitable Palestinian casualties - inevitable because of the confrontational practices that would be pursued by the Palestinians.
And getting back to the Temple Mount story - why no reports on the outlandish Muslim claims of chemical attacks on Al-Aqsa foundations, underground excavations, falling trees due to Jews, etc.? The incitement and threats of violence? The Temple Denial campaign?
Can we not expect a little perspective?
Who initiates violence?