A group of Jewish religious nationalists waved Israeli flags during a visit to the Temple Mount site on Sunday, as tensions rose on the day in Jerusalem ahead of the controversial flag march due to take place in the Muslim quarter of the city. old City.
Video from the compound showed a number of Jewish visitors waving Israeli flags.
Palestinians inside the compound chanted slogans to Jewish visitors, including “With spirit and blood, we will sacrifice for you, O Aqsa.”
The Hamas terror group has previously signaled that waving the Israeli flag at the holy site, which includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque, could trigger a violent response.
“The resistance will shoot down these flags with its rockets if the defenders of Al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem] don’t do it with their feet,” Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said earlier this week.
Palestinian groups hostile to Israel have been circulating an “unprecedented” amount of material on social media inciting violence against Israelis in the run-up to Jerusalem Day, the Palestinian affairs report of Israel said Sunday afternoon. Channel 12, Ohad Hemo.
An unknown number of non-Muslim visitors to the compound were evicted from the site and detained, according to police.
The police statement did not specify which rule the visitors violated, but the announcement of the group’s withdrawal came after a number of Jewish religious nationalists waved Israeli flags.
Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s conquest of the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, is today celebrated primarily by national-religious Jews.
Most importantly, young people march through the Old Town for the controversial Flag March. Israeli officials have worked to dispel false rumors that the parade route will include the Temple Mount.
Under an increasingly frayed arrangement known as the status quo, Jews are generally allowed to visit the Temple Mount for limited hours, but not to pray or perform other acts of worship there. can be considered as a provocation for Muslims.
Police said more than 1,800 Jewish visitors were allowed to enter the site Sunday morning, in groups of 40 to 50. Hundreds had arrived early in the morning to wait for a chance to visit the site.
Among those who visited the Temple Mount was far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir.
“The fact that we live here [in Israel] annoys and annoys them. So – what, we should go back to Europe? said the religious Zionist party MK.
Later, he tweeted that “we will not give in to threats from terrorist groups – we own Jerusalem.”
עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה. עלינו הבוקר, יום ירושלים, להר הבית. לא ניכנע לאיומים של ארגוני הטרור – אנחנו בעלי הבית בירושלים!
יום ירושלים שמח! ??????? pic.twitter.com/X8XFzLhIsA
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) May 29, 2022
Ben Gvir, seen by many as a provocateur, last visited the holy site in March. His previous visits to sensitive sites, including the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem last spring, have helped to heighten tensions and fighting.
Also at the Temple Mount was former Likud MK Yehudah Glick, a Jewish rights activist, visiting the site. Glick led a group of dozens of people around the site, live broadcast the event on Facebook.
In clear violation of the rules governed by the status quo on the site, Glick led the group in saying blessings out loud, along with traditional incantations and a few prayers. The participants continued to move throughout rather than standing still as is the custom during Jewish prayer.
They also sang a passage from the Psalms to the tune of Israel’s national anthem. Among those participating in Glick’s group was a uniformed IDF soldier who was apparently off duty.
Police accompanying the group did not intervene, despite the fact that Jewish prayer is not permitted at the site.
Other Jewish visitors to the Mount were filmed lying prostrate on the stones at the site.
Before Jewish visitors arrived at the site, dozens of Palestinians barricaded themselves in Al-Aqsa Mosque and threw stones at the security forces stationed outside.
Police said “a small group of rioters” who were barricaded inside the mosque threw “large stones” at Israeli officers.
Some Palestinians displayed flags of the terrorist group Hamas. The Gaza-based group had called on Palestinians to arrive en masse at the Temple Mount.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 29, 2022
The police intervened and although there were minor clashes with the Palestinians, no injuries were reported.
Police reportedly deployed flashbangs during the scuffles and, according to some reports, briefly entered the mosque itself.
A video clip released by police showed a masked rioter throwing rocks at security forces, then later relieving himself on the roof of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
לא ייאמן! מתפרע משתין על גג מסגד אל אקצא. ככה אכפת להם ממקומם הקדוש pic.twitter.com/se9QPtNALL
— Yossi Eli יוסי אלי (@Yossi_eli) May 29, 2022
Police said in a statement that many Palestinians were arrested after clashes with police and Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, is the holiest site for Jews and the site of Islam’s third holiest shrine.
It is the emotional epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions there helped ignite the 11-day war in Gaza in May last year that erupted into open conflict when Hamas fired a barrage of rockets on Jerusalem during the flag march.
As the tense Jerusalem Day morning continued, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum issued a warning, though he refrained from issuing any concrete threats or ultimatums, as the terror group has done. last year as war approached.
“The resistance cannot stand idly by in the face of occupation abuses,” Barhoum told Lebanese network al-Mayadeen. “[Israel] seems to have misunderstood the messages of the resistance,”
“The resistance has established clear equations that Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and Palestinian blood are red lines,” Barhoum said.
Although the northern gates of the Temple Mount remain open all day for Muslim worshippers, non-Muslims will only be allowed to enter the site for a few more hours in the afternoon.
Hundreds of worshipers also attended morning prayers at the Western Wall to mark Jerusalem Day. The Western Wall plaza is adjacent to and lower than the Temple Mount from where rioters have in the past hurled rocks at those below. The morning prayers passed without major incident.
Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said during a visit to a police station opposite the Western Wall that the force was at ‘maximum readiness’ for the day’s events in Jerusalem and across the country. .
“We are in full control of all sectors and all incidents and the number of specific incidents this morning were taken care of immediately and professionally,” Shabtai said.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said Sunday morning that the city remained generally calm, with the unrest at the Temple Mount contained.
“We are dealing with unrest on the Temple Mount. I am currently at [Old City’s] Jaffa Gate and calm reigns – the Temple Mount is the point where the unrest ends, and that’s a minority of people,” Lion told the Kan public broadcaster.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett conducted an assessment of the situation on Saturday evening with top security advisers and it was decided to let this year’s flag march go ahead as planned, routed into the Old City via the gate from Damascus and through the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall.
Israeli officials remained determined to allow the march to follow the same route it took in decades of previous celebrations, even at the risk of a Hamas response. Security assessments reportedly concluded that Hamas, which had put its rocket units on high alert, would not fire unless there were heavy clashes on the Temple Mount.
Israel also reportedly sent appeasement messages to Hamas via Qatari and Egyptian mediators accusing it of not being interested in an escalation. Hamas, the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, is also reportedly not looking forward to another round of fighting as it is still trying to rehabilitate the Palestinian enclave after last year’s deadly conflict.
Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.