A group of young Palestinians attacked police guarding a gate to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday. The police used riot control techniques to turn away their attackers. There were no injures. The holy site was closed to men under 50 as part of Israeli efforts to prevent violence. Israeli officials feared a surge in attacks on Friday after the Fatah party, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, declared it a “Day of Rage.”
The call comes on the heels of an assassination attempt in Jerusalem on Wednesday. American-Israeli activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick was shot four times after leaving a conference in Jerusalem late Wednesday evening. He is currently in serious but stable condition at a local hospital.
Glick is well-known for his calls to allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site. While access to the site is protected under the law, Jewish prayer at the location is illegal.
The Temple Mount, which is known as the Haram al-Sharif in Arabic, is also sacred to Muslims. Jordanian authorities administrate over the site.
Police said that convicted terrorist Moataz Hejazi was behind the attack. Hejazi is a member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. He was jailed for over ten years, and released in 2012. After leaving prison, Hejazi said in an interview that he wanted to be “a thorn in the throat of the Zionist plan to Judaize Jerusalem.”
On Thursday morning, police tracked Hejazi to his home in east Jerusalem. He opened fire on them, and was killed in the gunfight.
In the wake of the attempted assassination, the Temple Mount was closed to all visitors on Thursday. Abbas branded the security precaution as a “dangerous Israeli escalation” and a “declaration of war on the Palestinian people.”
Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Fatah have all praised the attack on Glick. The official Facebook page of Abbas’s party displayed its support for Hejazi by publishing a poster that called him the “heroic martyr who carried out the assassination” of the right-wing activist.
In addition to urging a “Day of Rage” and slamming Israel for “declaring war” on the Palestinians by temporarily closing the Temple Mount for a few hours, Abbas has also called for “using all ways” to stop Jews from entering the Temple Mount. According to Israeli watchdog group the Palestinian Media Watch, a video showing Abbas’s statement has been aired 25 times in the last two weeks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Abbas of inciting violence in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority president has made a number of inflammatory statements in recent months.
At the UN General Assembly in September, he accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians. Israel has rejected the accusation, while numerous analysts have denounced Abbas’s statement as an irresponsible attempt to malign Israel and escalate tensions.
The discord over the Temple Mount follows weeks of unrest in the Israeli capital. There have been several incidents of riots and clashes, with Palestinian protesters using rocks, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails to attack police.
On October 22, a Palestinian terrorist named Abdel Rahman al-Shalodi slammed his car into a crowd of people at a train station in Jerusalem. An American three-month-old girl was killed at the scene, while a woman died from her injuries a few days later. Seven other people were wounded in the attack.
Footage of the incident showed that the driver deliberately sped up and steered toward the people waiting at the train station. The terrorist was shot by police as he attempted to flee the scene. He died in a hospital a few hours later.
Shalodi, like Hejazi, was a convicted terrorist who had served time in an Israeli prison. He too was praised by the Palestinian Authority president’s Fatah party for the attack.
While the “Day of Rage” was relatively uneventful, tensions were still heightened in Jerusalem. It is likely for these tensions to dissipate, as Palestinian leadership continues to call for more violence and celebrate those who commit attacks against Israelis.
By Yitzchak Besser