Police clashed with Arab protesters at several flashpoints in Yerushalayim Monday evening as Muslims protested the installation of metal detectors at the entrance to Har Habayis following the murder of two Israeli police officers last Friday. Demonstrators threw rocks, Molotov cocktails and shot firecrackers at security forces south of Har Habayis in the Silwan neighborhood, as well as across town at the entrance to the Arab neighborhood of Isawiyya. In both locations, dozens of masked youth marched on security forces, also throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Police said that officers on site responded with riot-dispersal techniques.
Some media reported that people were wounded in the disturbances, but police spokespeople could not confirm that information.
In addition, Palestinian media reports that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group called Wednesday for a “Day of Rage,” although it was not clear when the protest would be held. Days of Rage were a hallmark of Palestinian protests during the first intifada, from 1987-1993, often held on Fridays, to maximize clashes with Israeli security forces, especially at the Har Habayis.
The protests follow the killings of Ha’il Satawi and Kamil Shnaan, who were shot dead at Lion’s Gate on May 14 by three Israeli Arabs exiting the Mount. Israel closed the site entirely following the attack and announced a series of new security measures for people entering the compound.
But Islamic officials in the Palestinian Authority and Israel say they will not submit to the new arrangements, calling it “collective punishment and a violation of the status quo at the site.”
“I’m not prepared to submit to security measures, because the Haram al-Sharif is under occupation,” said Sheikh Kamel Rayan, head of the Islamic al-Aqsa Association and of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel using the Arabic-name for Har Habayis. In an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS), Rayan denounced Friday’s attack unequivocally, but also criticized Israel for “stealing” the keys to the Temple Mount gates and for treating the site as a “synagogue.” Rayan also said that Israel’s acts like it is doing Muslims a favor by letting them pray at al-Aqsa Mosque, but stressed that the Arab community does not view freedom of religion as a favor.
“Let me stress – the incident on Friday was infuriating, degraded, doesn’t represent Muslims, doesn’t represent us. It was the height of our humiliation,” Rayan said in a phone interview.
“I’m not prepared to submit to security measures, because the Haram al-Sharif is under occupation. The Israeli State claims it is disputed, but there is also something called the status quo, as well as international agreement that this place is not under Israeli administration… the fact is that the site is occupied. The fact is that the international community sees Jordan as the administrative power there. The fact is that there is a status quo.
“The State has the right to limit people from coming to the site according to their age or times that they can come. It’s a mosque, and I want to go to the mosque whenever I want. The state shouldn’t prevent people from entering,” Rayan said.
Video: Palestinians protesting at the entrance to Har Habayis.