Arabs stone police, tourists on Temple Mount
Arabs stone police, tourists on Temple MountIsrael news photo: Flash 9 0 (archive)


Muslims hurled stones and shoes at police escorting Jewish and Christian visitors on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday.

"An officer was slightly wounded and treated at the scene," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, adding that two Arabs were arrested.

Police say officers had been put on high alert earlier in the day after receiving reports Jewish and Muslim groups were set to clash at the site, preceded by.various Muslim groups posting calls online urging people to head to the compound to "protect" it from a group of Jewish pilgrims  planning to ascend to Judaism's holiest site.

Police were deployed around the Temple Mount and throughout the Old City "following various calls on different Internet sites by terrorist groups calling on people to go protect the compound after calls from the extreme right to come today," Police spokeswoman Liba Samri said.

Over a dozen vans filled with riot police were reportedly parked by the Dung Gate, an entrance to the Western Wall plaza where the Mughrabi ramp ascends up to the Temple Mount.

On Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse Muslims who were throwing stones at tourists and police inside the compound. In that incident police arrested 18 people.

A similar protest took place last week when a group of Jewish worshippers sought access to the site.

Police say it "was not clear" why the "disturbances" broke out, but one local Arab told an AFP reporter stone throwers were targeting religious Jews who entered the site with a group of Christian tourists.

However, it was reported earlier on Tuesday that the Al-Aqsa Center had released a report, denied by Israel, that Israeli authorities planned to allow Jews free access to the Temple Mount.

According to the report, Jews would be able to perform "Talmudic rituals" (i.e., pray) on the Temple Mount. At present, Jews are allowed to ascend at certain times, under heavy supervision, but may not pray there - for fear of "disturbing the peace".

The Al Aqsa report goes on to say that Israeli police plan to use the new arrangement to "cleanse the Temple Mount of Muslims under flimsy pretexts."

According to another plan "revealed" by the Al Aqsa Center, Jews will "freely enter the mosque" between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., between Muslim prayer times. These alleged plans will be implemented this year.

The Temple Mount is the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (705 CE). However, way 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 the Jewish worshippers to be discriminated against to the point of not being allowed to even whisper prayers on the Mount.