PM Bennett: Israeli Forces Have ‘Free Hand’ to Quash Temple Mount Rioting

Israeli police pursue Palestinian protesters near Lion's Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday

Clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli security forces erupted again on Sunday morning in the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, as Palestinians tried to stop Jewish worshipers from entering the holy site.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israeli security forces had “free rein” to take any measure necessary to ensure security for the citizens of Israel.

“We are working to calm things down on the one hand and are taking vigorous action against violent individuals on the other. The security forces are ready for any scenario,” he said at a situational assessment.

A total of 728 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Sunday morning, the first intermediary day of the Passover festival, according to the Temple Mount Administration. The flashpoint site, which is Judaism’s holiest as the site of the biblical Temples and the third holiest in Islam, is administered by the Jordanian Islamic Waqf. According to the Waqf’s current policy, Jews are allowed to visit the site but are barred from uttering prayers — even under their breath or disguised as a sermon — prostrating, or performing any other religious rituals.

Hundreds of masked Palestinian rioters gathered rocks and iron bars to stop Jews from entering. Video footage showed Palestinians hitting Jewish worshipers in the head on their way to pray. Palestinians are heard chanting slogans in support of Hamas as well as chants of “with our souls and blood, we will redeem you, O Aqsa.”

Rioters also threw stones at public buses, smashing windows and wounding passengers. Police arrested nine rioters.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that “Israel’s measures to change the status quo on the Mount are a dangerous escalation. Israel bears full responsibility for the consequences of the current escalation that is thwarting efforts invested to bring about calm.”

Supporters of the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad group rally after Friday prayers in Khan Yunis in the Southern Gaza Strip, to express support for the Al-Aqsa Mosque on April 15, 2022. (SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images)

Supporters of the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad group rally after Friday prayers in Khan Yunis in the Southern Gaza Strip to express support for the Al-Aqsa Mosque on April 15, 2022. More than 100 people were wounded in violence which came after three tense weeks of deadly violence in Israel and the West Bank as the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian Easter overlap with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty )

“The Israel Police has no right to organize visits by non-Muslims there. Only the Muslim Waqf does,” the ministry added.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the U.S. to intervene.

“The [Biden] administration must break its silence in the face of this aggression that threatens to burn the region,” a statement from his office read. “The international community must intervene immediately to provide protection for the Palestinian people.”

Abbas also called on Palestinians to flock to al-Aqsa Mosque in order to “defend it.” He added that any escalation that occurred would be Israel’s fault.

As the Times of Israel notes, the rock-throwing “defenders” who clashed with Israeli security forces in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque had their shoes on, violating Islam’s requirement of removing shoes upon entering a mosque.

A member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group exits a tunnel in the Gaza strip, on April 17, 2022, during a media tour amid escalating violence with Israel. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Hayat said that “instead of calming the situation, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry has chosen to join extremist elements in the distribution of fake news, with the aim of escalating violence.”

Hayat said that “Israel maintains freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem, in the holy places of the three religions that celebrate their holidays during this period,” and said that “any attempt to present another false picture further aids Palestinian terrorist organizations and criminals.”

“These same organizations defile the spirit of Islam with their behavior,” he added.


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