Photos: Police Quell Muslim Riot on Temple Mount
Dozens of riot police were deployed to quell a Muslim riot on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday.
Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said more than 100 Muslims began throwing rocks at a police location following Friday prayers, prompting the police to enter the compound.
According to reports, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the rioters.
Police, however, said they had used only stun grenades against the demonstrators and that "dozens of people" had barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque.
"We are negotiating with the Israelis not to storm into the mosque or the Dome of the Rock and to let people out," Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Jerusalem Waqf, told AFP.
He blamed the Israeli government for the rioting and claimed they will "bear the consequences," adding "We demand that no settlers, radicals or soldiers enter the mosque to avoid friction."
Much of the tension follows on the heels of a totally uncomfirmed report published by the Al Aqsa Center earlier this week claiming Israel plans to divide the Temple Mount into separate Jewish and Muslim sections, in the same way that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron is divided.
On Thursday, police arrested seven Arabs who instigated a series of confrontations with Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.
On Tuesday, Muslims on the Temple Mount hurled stones and shoes at police escorting Jewish and Christian visitors. One police officer sustained minor injuries.
Two Muslims were arrested in that incident, police said.
And on Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse Muslim rioters who were throwing stones inside the compound, arresting 18 people.
The Temple Mount is the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (705 CE) today. However, long before that, it was the site of the the First Holy Temple, built by King Solomon (stood from ~950 BCE to 587 BCE) and the Second Holy Temple (517 BCE to 70CE) and is indisputably Judaism's most sacred site.
The Western Wall, where Jews are allowed to pray, is merely a remnant of an outside compound wall of Herodian days and not part of the Temples.
The Muslim Waqf, the religious Muslim authority, has systematically attempted to destroy all archaeological evidence of earlier Jewish presence on the Mount, illegally excavating and destroying priceless and irreplaceable relics.
Israeli archaeologists and volunteers sift painstakingly through the debris of the excavations, finding artifacts that are then transferred to Israeli museums.
The Muslim Waqf was allowed to manage the site after Israel succeeded liberating the Temple Mount in 1967 at the suggestion of then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. It maintains a discriminatory policy seeking to bar Jews entry to the site.
The Israeli police, afraid of riots, allow Jewish worshippers to be discriminated against to the point of not being allowed to even whisper prayers on the Mount.