Arabs on Temple Mount (illustration)
Arabs on Temple Mount (illustration)Muath Al Khatib/Flash 90

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday sentenced three Arab terrorists from Jerusalem to jail time, over their plot to abduct and murder Jews on the Temple Mount - the holiest site in Judaism.

The three all hail from Abu Tor, a Jerusalem neighborhood located directly south of the Old City. Back in March 2013 they joined a terror cell headed by Nur Hamdan, with the goal being to attack Jews visiting the Temple Mount, or else police and soldiers posted at the site.

They were convicted for attempted murder and attempted abduction, after their plot to conduct a terror attack on the Mount and murder Jews was discovered and foiled. They had held ten to 15 meetings to plan the attack, preparing weapons and explosives and training with guns.

The longest sentence of the three was given to Jalal Kotub, who was handed a 13-year jail sentence. Kotub was charged with various counts including helping the enemy during wartime, two charges of attempted murder and several abduction related charges, and likewise was charged with undergoing military training.

Ahmed Shaar was given four-and-a-half years for aiding the enemy during wartime and attempted robbery, while Mohammed Bazalmit got three-and-a-half years for confessing to crimes on the same charges as Shaar.

The Temple Mount has been a key symbol used by Palestinian Arab leaders to incite the current wave of terrorism engulfing Israel, which has already left 22 victims murdered since mid September.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is largely credited with setting off the terror wave in his comments in early September, when he said he blesses every drop of blood shed in Jerusalem "for Allah," and called to stop "filthy" Jews from visiting the Temple Mount.

Another leading source promoting violence on the Temple Mount has been the Islamic Movement in Israel, which just two weeks ago was outlawed, leading Arab citizens in Israel to hold mass protests. The organization, which is funded by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, has paid activists to conduct riots and hurl explosives and rocks at police on the Mount. 

A poll published right after the decision to outlaw the radical movement showed that 57% of the Arab citizens in Israel said the Islamic Movement faithfully represents them.

The government has long been criticized for its management of the Temple Mount, allowing the Jordanian Waqf to remain in de facto control of the holy site and ban Jewish prayer in breach of Israeli law that guarantees freedom of worship.

Last month Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to install cameras on the Mount, in a move approved by Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, who likewise stated his support of the Jordanian Waqf's ban on Jewish prayer. However, Jordan's King Abdullah II made clear that the footage from the cameras will only be accessed by Jordan, which will then decide what segments to share with Israel.