The visits of tourists and Jews to Har Habayit, which have been held there for many years during the chagim, are set to take place as normal.
As Jewish visitation to Har Habayit increases during the High Holidays, clashes continue both in Har Habayit and throughout east Jerusalem as police remain on high alert in anticipation of a tumultuous holiday period.
On Tuesday night, September 27, Jerusalem District officers were handling a number of public disturbances in Tzur Bahar and Silwan in east Jerusalem; rioters began throwing stones, shooting fireworks, setting fire to barrels and throwing bottles at police forces, which repelled the rioters using non-lethal means.
Detectives of the Oz station together with Jerusalem riot police teams and border police officers arrested two suspects (14, 18, residents of Tzur Bahar) involved in the disturbances. One of the suspects was caught red-handed holding a beehive of fireworks and a Palestinian flag and was found concealing a knife. The police also seized a number of ready-to-use Molotov cocktails.
On Tuesday morning, a number of masked individuals led calls for incitement inside al-Aqsa Mosque and tried to incite provocation. At one point, the men even desecrated the mosque, banging on its doors with various objects and interfering mainly with Muslim worshippers entering to pray. One of those masked suspects, an 18-year-old resident of east Jerusalem, was arrested on suspicion of incitement.
The Jerusalem district police continue to work with an increased presence in the Old City as part of a heightened alert during the High Holy Days.
The visits of tourists and Jews to Har Habayit, which have been held there for many years during the holidays, are set to take place as normal. No unusual disturbances were recorded there so far, except for those at al-Aqsa Mosque itself.
Police Chief Inspector General Yaakov “Kobi” Shabtai arrived in the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday, met the commanders and police officers operating in the area, and received an overview of the increased preparation and deployment of forces in the capital.
“We are at the peak of increased police activity all over the country, especially in Jerusalem and the Old City sector, to allow Israeli citizens to celebrate Rosh Hashanah safely,” Shabtai said during his visit to the Old City.
“The high alert that the Israel Police is on will continue during all of the High Holidays when, along with increased police activity on all levels, the public is asked to continue to be vigilant and report anything unusual to us. So far, the events in Jerusalem have been contained and are under control by the many forces of the police and border police, we are prepared for any scenario,” he added.
Har Habayit has always been a sensitive, potentially explosive area during the holidays. The experience of the last few years has already shown that what begins with clashes on the mount may end in a wider escalation in the West Bank, Gaza and in condemnations from the Arab world.
The focus of tension this time is the expansion of Jewish ascension to the mountain due to the holidays, which is perceived by the Palestinians and Jordanians as a violation of the status quo.
Jordan released a statement Monday morning condemning the violent escalations on Har Habayit, which was “instigated by Israeli extremists storming the blessed al-Aqsa mosque with extensive protections from the Israeli police,” its foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Jordanians added that Israeli practices on the mount “violate its sanctity” and are “scandalous and unacceptable violations of international law.”
14 Arrested in East Jerusalem Clashes
Har Habayit is not the only place where police are facing increased tensions in Jerusalem. During Monday night, a number of riots began in the east of the city, with dozens of masked individuals throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at officers, as well as firing fireworks intermittently.
Rioters set barrels on fire and attempted to close off roads as police forces operated to calm the incidents. No casualties were reported during the night.
“The Israel Police will continue to act with determination and zero tolerance towards violence of any kind, violation [to the] public order and any attempt to harm police officers or civilians in violation of the law,” the police said in a statement.
According to the police, some young Palestinians shut themselves inside al-Aqsa Mosque the night before, and as Jewish visitors started to arrive at Har Habayit, clashes broke out between Palestinian worshippers and Israel Police officers. Two suspects have been arrested for rioting and incitement.
This escalation has been anticipated by Israeli security forces, as just two weeks ago Eyal Hulata, head of the National Security Council, said that Hamas and extremist Palestinian forces are planning to escalate the situation on Har Habayit due to the holiday season.
Moreover, as preparation for the High Holy Days season, Jewish and Arab activists were reportedly issued restraining orders from Har Habayit; the decision was made in order to decrease tensions.
By Roman Meitav/www.Jpost.com