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Riot on Temple Mount shows tensions high in Jerusalem

Jerusalem's Temple Mount has once again become a place of violence instead of a place of prayer.
Jerusalem's Temple Mount has once again become a place of violence instead of a place of prayer.
Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images

On Sunday, July 13, David Eisenbud of The Jerusalem Post reported that at least 10 Arab suspects had been arrested after a riot on Jerusalem's Temple Mount that resulted in two police officers suffering minor injuries. It is unclear if the riot started because of religious reasons or some other motive, but it shows that tensions are high in Jerusalem as Israel's military forces continue to fight against Hamas and others who are sympathetic to their cause in Gaza.

"According to police, the violence began on the Temple Mount when officers opened Mughrabi Gate for visitors at 7:30 a.m.," Eisenbud said. "'Hundreds of suspects began throwing rocks and firecrackers at officers, lightly injuring two officers,' said Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld shortly after the riot. The officers were treated at an area hospital, and at least 10 suspects were placed under arrest, he said."

There were other violent incidents on Sunday including outbreaks of violence in east Jerusalem and a fight between an Arab man armed with a knife and a police officer. Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu of The Jewish Press reported that Arabs living in predominantly Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods started another riot the night before on Saturday, July 12 that resulted in millions of dollars in damages to two light rail stations.

According to Eisenbud, "A few hours later, a knife-wielding Arab man was detained by police at a light rail station near Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market after attempting to stab an officer during questioning. The unidentified man raised the police's suspicion as he exited the light rail station adjacent to the market. Seconds after being questioned by an officer, the suspect lunged at him with a large utility knife.The officer promptly wrestled the suspect to the ground and disarmed him before backup units arrived and he was placed under arrest. No one was injured during the attack, police said.

Ben-Gedalyahu said the media has been exaggerating the impact of the riots and other recent violent crimes in Jerusalem. He went on to say that the Temple Mount was only shut down for a short time after Sunday's riot and that Jerusalem Light Rail service was restored sooner than experts had predicted. He added that these incidents should not be viewed as proof that all Arabs living in Jerusalem want to rise up against the Israeli government.

According to Ben-Gadalyahu, "There are approximately 250,000 Arabs in Jerusalem and about 249,000 don’t riot. This a big problem for the media establishment, which wants to promote the myth that Israel is 'occupying' Jerusalem and that the Arab citizens of Israel really would prefer to give up all of their benefits from the Israeli government and medical service for the right to be subjected to the corrupt regime ruin by Mahmoud Abbas. Twenty years of Palestinian Authority incitement against Israel and American and European Union promotion of the idea of 'occupation' have educated a large part of the younger generation to hate Israel, but not enough are buying the lie to support a rebellion."

Ben-Gedalyahu also offered the opinion that much of the suffering Arabs are currently experiencing in Gaza and Israel can be blamed on other Arabs. This is interesting because it is consistent with evidence offered by Israeli journalists and others that there would be fewer Palestinian casualties in the current conflict if members of Hamas and their supporters in Gaza weren't surrounding themselves with their relatives and other noncombatants.

According to a recent report published in The Guardian, over 160 Palestinians have died since the fighting began. This is in spite of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) trying to minimalize casualties by warning innocent bystanders ahead of time in several different ways before they launch airstrikes or take other measures to go after the people who have been firing rockets into Israel. The Guardian report goes on to describe some truly horrifying examples of innocent people being injured or killed by IDF attacks, such as an attack on a mosque that resulted in 18 deaths or the two disabled women who were killed in northern Gaza. However, it seems likely that there would be fewer reports of women and children dying if Palestinians weren't basically using their families as human shields.

Even if most of the blame for the recent violence can be placed at the feet of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political supporters, it it sad to read reports of deaths and injuries that probably could have been avoided if Arabs had handled things differently. For example, there was a great deal of outrage over seven innocent civilians who died when the IDF targeted a Hamas leader. If they hadn't been at the site in the first place, a family probably would have suffered fewer losses. Additionally, even if Arabs living in Jerusalem feel like they have legitimate reasons to fight with the local police, there are better ways to go about it that wouldn't cause more harm to people in their own community.

A writer for Al Jazeera named Amed Moor recently described the Hamas rocket attacks as justifiable self-defense against their Jewish oppressors who used the deaths of three Jewish teenagers who were murdered on June 12 while they were hitchhiking as a flimsy excuse to engage in ethnic cleansing in Gaza. Even if he and others who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause are right and the approximately 560 arrests that happened since the deaths of the three young men were confirmed and other measures taken by Israel were completely unethical, that still doesn't give Palestinians the right to engage in "self-defense" that involves destroying property all over Israel.

If nothing else, Palestinians in Gaza have to know that the IDF will continue to respond in the way they have been since the fighting began. Arguably having the moral high ground won't really matter if ground troops and air strikes keep attacking Hamas targets. If Palestinians are truly concerned about the welfare of their fellow Muslims, the most practical thing to do would be to accept a cease-fire agreement at least long enough for those who are fleeing Gaza to get somewhere safe. Instead, Hamas leaders stubbornly refuse to even consider the idea and continue to risk the lives of their own people.

It is especially sad to see an incident like the latest riot at the Temple Mount. The site is the most holy place in Judaism and the third most holy place in Islam. The Temple Mount should be a place for prayer and other religious activities, not a location where Jews might get injured just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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