Joint List party head MK Ayman Odeh
Joint List party head MK Ayman OdehYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Joint List of Arab parties on Sunday sharply condemned Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) for his visit to the Temple Mount earlier in the day. Ariel entered the Temple Mount Sunday morning to commemorate Tisha B'Av at the site of Temple, which was destroyed on this day over 1,900 years ago.

In a statement, the party said that Ariel's “provocative entry was meant to change the status quo, which will lead to the igniting of fires throughout the entire region,” the Arab MKs said. According to the statement, Israeli police “prevented hundreds of believers and worshippers from expressing freedom of worship and prevented them from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque by means of violence and physical force.”

Ariel visited the Mount as Arabs rioted, barricading themselves inside the mosque. The youths had collected rocks, wooden boards and planks, and fireworks to make firebombs in preparations for a riot, possibly to attack Jews who thronged to the Western Wall to commemorate Tisha B'Av.

As Police and Border Patrol forces, under the command of Jerusalem District Commander Moshe Edri, entered the Temple Mount compound, masked rioters fled into mosque, from where they threw dozens of rocks and cements blocks at the police. They also shot fireworks and sprayed the security forces with an unidentified fluid, lightly injuring four of the policeman.

Despite the escalating violence, police managed to prevent further injuries by closing the doors of the mosque, with the rioters trapped inside, and restoring quiet to the Temple Mount, allowing visitors to enter.

Arab MKs Abed Alhakim, Hajj Yahyeh, and Taleb Abu-Arar – all members of the Joint List – were present on the Mount throughout the morning. In a statement, they said that “there had been an atmosphere of war from Saturday night, which intensified when Minister Ariel and a group of radical war-mongering settlers entered the site, doing everything possible to upset the status quo. According to international agreements which Israel wantonly violates, Jordan is responsible for the Al Aqsa Mosque,” they said.