At least 30 Arab youths who barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa Mosque plaza at the Temple Mount and hurled stones at passers-by, provoked Israeli Police last night and early this morning.
Stones were occasionally thrown at police officers in the alleys of the Old City, including near the Antonia Fortress, which is one of the entrances to the Temple Mount. There were no reports of injuries. One suspect was detained for questioning.
After the scuffle, police again opened the mount’s gates to worshippers, but restricted entrance to the site to male worshippers with Israeli identity cards over the age of 50 and to female worshippers of all ages.
It seems obvious that Sunday’s fray at the Temple Mount is related to the tension that arose over Israel’s decision to include the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem to its list of national heritage sites.
Members of the Waqf and various Islamic organizations, including the Islamic Movement, advocated for Muslims over the weekend to flock to the Temple Mount, claiming that
“radical Jewish organizations have called on their followers to arrive at the mount today and on Tuesday in an attempt to lay the cornerstone for the temple.”
The Islamic organizations also warned Muslims to be on high alert around March 16, when they that said extreme Jewish organizations were planning to mark the global day for the temple’s reconstruction.
The Iraninan delegation may have walked out when Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed the delegates to the International Interfaith Conference being held in Kazakhstan on Wednesday; but the Saudi delegates didn’t, and they head the Israeli President invite His Majesty King Abdullah to meet with him and other Israeli officials in Jerusalem or in Riyadh or to travel back to Kazakhstan in order to talk about peace between Israel and it’s Arab neighbors.
Speaking before the 150 delegate audience Peres told them “there was time when we (the Israeli delegation) would be the only Middle Eastern ones present in such a conference. But times have changed and together with all the Arab leaders, we can realize your vision, our vision and the vision of all the leaders and all the believers in our shared goal of peace and justice”.
Peres called upon the delegates attending the conference to separate themselves between religion and terror and to castigate those who use the practice of religion to “kill in the name of God”. He then focused hid attention towards the Iranian delegation by telling them “Your country organizes religion to carry out violent acts, supposedly in God’s name, towards your own people â€“ acts that are seen to be in worst criminal manner against mankind and against the laws of God.”
Peres immediately returned to Israel, following his presence at the conference, and his meetings with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in what was a historical first meeting between an Israeli Head of State and the leaders of two Muslim countries: Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
Peres’ presence at the conference is seen as an important step forward in improving relations between Israel and countries who in the past have not had very friendly relations with the Jewish state. Whether or not the Saudi king takes Peres up on his invite is up to speculation, as Saudi Arabia is one or strictest Islamic countries in the world, where women have far less status and individual rights than those living in most other Muslim countries â€“ including Iran. The Saudi royal family is also under intense pressure from both Iran and from terror groups like Al Qaeda, who’s leader Usama bin Ladin came from there and still has many relatives still residing in the Kingdom.
But the offer was made, and it may not be too far fetched to one day see a Saudi king and his entourage praying in the Al Aqsa Mosque.