Just a quick update with what’s been happening today on the Temple Mount and Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa.
Last night, as the cabinet discussed the measures to be taken on the Temple Mount, the Arabs continued to riot violence, leaving 42 Arabs and 5 policemen injured:
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Palestinians threw rocks and glass bottles at the officers outside the Old City’s Lions Gate following evening prayers. Police responded with tear gas and riot dispersal methods. Samri said 5 officers were hurt.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 36 of the protesters were taken to the hospital for treatment. Two of them were in serious condition after being hit by rubber bullets.
As I mentioned last night, Israelis were worried that our government would cave in to pressure to remove the metal detectors at the entrance to Al-Aqsa. Thankfully, the cabinet did NOT surrender.
The Political-Security Cabinet decided on Thursday night, after a four-hour meeting, that the magnetometers will remain at the entrance to the Temple Mount as part of the new security measures at the compound. The decision was taken the evening before the Friday prayerrs at the site, when large numbers of Muslims ascend the Mount..
The Cabinet also authorized the police to make every decision “in order to ensure free access to the holy places, while maintaining security and public order” on the Temple Mount.
“Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy sites. Israel is committed to protecting the safety of all worshipers and visitors to the Temple Mount,” said a statement.
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Channel 2 News in an interview that the metal detectors must remain on the Temple Mount because “the security interest in preventing future attacks in the wake of a desire to imitate what happened [last week] has to prevail.”
“We must continue to install them (the metal detectors) on all roads to the Temple Mount. If the Shin Bet is opposed to the security measures, then it should offer alternatives, and that did not happen.”
They also instructed to prevent under-50 year old men from entering the Mosque. Yisrael Katz, Likud Minister for Transportation, said “we won’t concede our sovereignty on the Temple Mount“.
Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), who serves as a member of Israel’s Secrity Cabinet, on Friday said that the Cabinet decided to keep magnetometers on the Temple Mount and did not leave the decision up to the police.
“The Temple Mount is in our hands,” Katz said, quoting the soldiers who liberated Jerusalem’s Old City during the Six Day War. “We will not cede sovereignty. The State of Israel is responsible for preserving law and order on the Temple Mount.””Contrary to reports, the Security Cabinet decided to continue using every security precaution which was begun immediately following the despicable terror attack, including the use of metal detectors. The State of Israel is responsible for implementing this policy.”
Earlier on Friday, Israel Police announced that entry to the Old City and the Temple Mount would be closed to men below the age of 50, and that private vehicles would not be allowed to enter the Old City or the nearby Sultan Suleiman Street.
The police also closed certain roads around the Old City area:
Following internal police consultations on Friday morning, Jerusalem Police chief Yoram Halevy ordered the continued operation of the metal detectors and restricted entry to young men, allowing only those over 50 or women of any age to enter the Old City.
Checkpoints at the entrances to Jerusalem will also be bolstered, as well as police patrols in the alleyways of the Old City and on paths taken by Jewish and Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
Police also announced that some roads around the Old City will be closed to vehicles, including Sultan Suleiman Street and various circumference roads in the Old City basin.
Halevy issued a special notice to officers posted at the metal detectors “emphasizing the importance of ensuring the dignity of the worshipers” as they pass through the gates.
UPDATE and Edit: It is important to note that the request for metal detectors emanated from the police. The Shin Bet and IDF objected to them because they might incite more violence and they prefer to “keep the peace”.
directive emanated from the government to the police. If the choice had been left up to the police themselves, they might well have removed the magnetometers simply in order to “keep the peace”. This is certainly a short-term measure but that is how the police operate if left to their own devices. But they would not act against government directives. “Keeping the peace” is a short-term solution which will never last.
This is the way the government should act also regarding Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount – they should instruct the police to permit it, and it is up to the police then to enforce those rights.
In protest, the Mufti of Jerusalem called on Muslims to pray outside the Mosque rather than go through the security gates. I’m pretty sure that suits us all fine. It leaves the Temple Mount free for the Jews, and the Muslims can pray wherever they want.
A win-win situation for all, as long as the Muslims stop their rioting.
I will update here if there is any more news before Shabbat.
UPDATE: 3 Palestinians killed, 200 injured in further riots.