Temple Mount Closed After Muslim Rioting

Rock-throwing and Molotov cocktail attacks on police forces prompt closure of the site to visitors - and, some claim, specifically to Jews.

Shlomo Pitrikovsky ,

Israeli policeman on on Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa
Israeli policeman on on Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa
Flash 90

Muslim rioters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli Police forces on the Temple Mount Sunday morning, prompting the Mount to be closed to visitors until further notice.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that violence erupted when police opened one of the walled compound's gates to non-Muslim visitors, according to the regular visiting hours.

"Stones and a number of Molotov cocktails were thrown at police," he said"Police responded by using stun grenades and entered the Temple Mount area." 

Rosenfeld did not specify if Jewish visitors were the target of the riots, as local Muslims have attacked before to prevent Jews from visiting Judaism's holiest site. But critics claim the move is designed not to keep tourists from visiting this time - but only to keep Jews away before the Passover holiday. 

Arabs continuously accuse Israel of "Judaizing" the Temple Mount, sometimes resorting to wild accusations, such as saying that Israel is using chemicals to erode the foundations of the mosque in order to cause it to collapse.

Some Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have claimed that Israel was trying to build a new Holy Temple on the Temple Mount, replacing the Al-Aqsa Mosque. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas himself has made claims to this effect.

The reality is that it is Jews, not Arabs, who are discriminated against when they want to visit the Temple Mount.

Israeli police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship.

Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots - for days or weeks at a time - despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.

Jordan recently threatened to revoke its 1994 peace treaty with Israel over a historic debate in the Knesset about providing full religious freedom at Judaism's holiest site. 

Under the peace treaty, Jordan controls Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount falls under this category, despite being Judaism's holiest site and the site of the two Jewish Temples, and the Muslim world has been adamant about keeping it in Muslim hands.