As Jewish visits begin, Israeli police enter the sensitive holy site

JERUSALEM (Parliament Politics Magazine) – A key holy site in Jerusalem was cleared of Palestinian demonstrators by the Israeli police on Thursday, as the Jews began visiting which had been stopped for Muslim holidays.

Several rounds of unrest had taken place in recent weeks at the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located atop of a hill and is considered the Jews’ holiest site, who call it the Temple Mount. It is among the major reasons of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the parties are emotionally invested.

Dozens of Palestinians had come together as the visits started, with “God is greatest”  chants being heard. When the police began to arrest one of them, chaos unfolded. Rubber-coated bullets were fired by the police onto the broad esplanade as several Palestinians took cover in the mosque. The police were later seen right in the main entrance of the mosque.

The incident saw an officer slightly hurt after reacting to dozens of people throwing stones and yelling incitement, according to the police.

However, unlike prior clashes, Palestinian witnesses stated there was no evidence of rock-throwing at first. When police entered the mosque, several of those who had taken refuge inside began throwing stones. Because of security concerns, the witnesses spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Jews are allowed to visit but not pray at the site under an informal agreement known as the status quo. They have been visiting in ever-increasing numbers with police escorts in recent years, and many have quietly prayed, enraging Palestinians as well as Jordan, the site’s custodian. Palestinians have long worried that Israel intends to take control of the site or divide it.

Israel declares its commitment to maintaining the status quo, accusing Hamas of inciting the current violence.

The visits, which were largely made by religious and nationalist Jwes, began on Thursday after being suspended for the previous ten days of Ramadan and the Eid Al-Fitr festival.

Thursday is the Independence Day of Israel, and in recent days, fringe groups have called on Jewish pilgrims to wave Israeli flags at the holy site to commemorate the occasion. Palestinians used social media to spread the appeals, as well as calls to confront any such exhibition.

Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official who serves as the Palestinian Authority’s main liaison with Israel, responded to the controversy with a tweet, stating that flag raising would show “outrageous disregard” for feelings of Palestinians and the “continuation of extremist racist campaigns.”

Israel was playing with fire and driving the region towards an escalation for which the occupation takes full responsibility, Hamas warned on Wednesday.

Clashes in and around Al-Aqsa sparked an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas last year.

Ashton Perry

Ashton Perry is a former Birmingham BSc graduate professional with six years critical writing experience. With specilisations in journalism focussed writing on climate change, politics, buisness and other news. A passionate supporter of environmentalism and media freedom, Ashton works to provide everyone with unbiased news.