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.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in one of his most Jewish moments, decided to include the Cave of Machpelah in his national heritage plan.
For those not in the knowâ€¦the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron was the first piece of land purchased by a Jew â€“ Abraham from the Hittite inhabitants. And this is where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah are all buried.
During his reign, King Herod of Judea built a splendid yet humble fort around it. The architecture might seem eerily familiar to tourists traveling to Hebron from the Kotel in Jerusalem.
But on Monday about 100 Palestinians marched toward the Cave, hurling stones at security forces. One soldier was injured and received medical treatment there at the scene of the ugly riot.
Hebron Palestinians declared a general strike. Businesses and Palestinian Authority’s offices were closed, and protest rallies were held in the local schools.
The comprehensive plan to preserve heritage sites across the country entails an investment of some NIS 400 million (about $106 million). At the last minute, following pressing by right-wing lobbyists and ministers, Bibi added Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave in Hebron. The plan was unanimously approved.