Palestinians again clashed with Israeli police forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque Oct. 24, leaving 17 protesters and nine officer injured, and 21 Palestinians detained. The violence erupted when members of the Islamic Movement mobilized to the site to prevent followers of the right-wing Eretz Israel Shelanu from holding a gathering at the Temple Mount.
Following the riots, Israeli authorities issued an order barring Fatah official Hatem Abdel Kader, who is in charge of the Jerusalem portfolio in the Palestinian organization, from entering the Old City area for a period of three weeks. Islamic Movement leader Ali Abu Sheikha was similarly banned. Israeli police remain heavily deployed across East Jerusalem.
Israel’s Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch addressed the Knesset: “There are too many extreme elements on both sides stirring the pot in the Temple Mount, and I ask them all to cease stirring things up, inciting and enflaming.”
Eretz Israel Shelanu was said to be holding its gathering in commemoration of a visit to the site by Maimonides 843 years ago. But many Palestinian leaders see them as a tool in a larger Israeli agenda. In a televised news conference from Damascus after the riots, Hamas official Khalid Mash’al warned that Israel could attempt to divide the al-Aqsa Mosque compound: “It was the first time Israeli army locked the gates of the mosque with chains, barring the call to prayer, breaking into its yards for long periods of time… These acts are intended to divide Al-Aqsa and force their [Jews’] religious rituals on it.” This was a seeming allusion to the division of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, half of which is controlled by Israeli settlers.
“Jerusalem for us, as Palestinians, is all of Jerusalem with all of its land, residents and its Islamic symbols… The Jews have no right to it,” he added. “Jerusalem’s fate will not be decided in negotiations but in the balance of confrontation and resistance.” (YNet, JTA, NYT, Oct. 26; Ma’an News Agency, Ma’an News Agency, Oct. 25)