Firebomb Hurled at Israeli Police on Temple Mount, Sparking Riots and Shutdown

Israeli security forces stand guard in front of the Dome of the Rock in the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in the old city of Jerusalem on July 27, 2017
DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – Palestinians hurled a Molotov cocktail at a police post on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Tuesday, prompting a shutdown of the flashpoint holy site.

The firebomb set a motorized police cart ablaze and one police officer was treated for smoke inhalation.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responded that there would be “grave repercussions” for what he called a “dangerous Israeli escalation” of violence. He added that he was in touch with Jordanian Islamic Waqf in charge of administering the holy site “to pressure the occupation’s government” to put an end to the escalation. He also called on the international community to join the fight against Israeli authorities.

Jordan’s Religious Affairs Minister Abdel Nasser Abu al-Basal, who is in charge of the Waqf, said closing the site was “a major violation of freedom of religion and is unacceptable. The occupation is attempting to stoke religious conflict.”

The Waqf further claimed Israel had orchestrated the whole incident in a bid to close the holy site, and that it wasn’t even clear if a Molotov cocktail had indeed been thrown.

Three people were arrested in connection with the firebomb and the Temple Mount compound was cordoned off. Riots between Palestinians and Israeli police broke out as worshipers already at the site were escorted out.

The Gaza-based Hamas terror organization released a statement calling on the “Arab and Muslim world to oppose [Israeli] aggression” on the holy site. The terror group called on Palestinians to take to the streets in “defiance” of Israel’s actions.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu joined in the chorus of condemnation, calling on “the whole world to react to Israel’s brazen attacks on our sacred lands” in response to the decision to close off the Temple Mount, and added that the U.S. was supporting Jerusalem’s “increasing aggression.”

Recent weeks have seen an uptick in violence on the Temple Mount.

Monday’s incident comes a day after Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan vowed that there will be “no second mosque on the Temple Mount” and that “God willing” Jews will be able to pray there freely in the near future.

According to Israel’s agreement with the Waqf, Jews may visit the holy site but are barred from praying. Police routinely arrest Jews who are seen moving their lips in apparent silent prayer while visiting the compound. The Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site and the third holiest in Islam.

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