May 10, 2021
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
TRAGEDY IN ISRAEL: AGAIN!
Last week we had the disturbing loss of life in the Lag B’Omer incident near Safed in Northern Israel. This week the Temple Mount exploded in rioting. Seventeen policemen and 200 Palestinians were hurt. Here’s the full story you won’t hear on the evening news this week. Israeli police burst into the Temple Mount compound on Friday evening after Palestinians threw rocks and bottles at officers, as widespread clashes in Jerusalem spread to the holy site following prayers held there on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 205 Palestinians were wounded in clashes throughout Jerusalem, mostly around the Temple Mount and by the Damascus Gate. Eighty-eight Palestinians were hospitalized, mostly for injuries with rubber-coated steel bullets. Demonstrators had called for more people to try and reach the compound, but police blocked roads leading to the site. Footage on social media appeared to show police officers on the roof of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem has long been one of the main flashpoints of Israeli-Palestinian friction. The holiest place in Judaism, it is the site of the two biblical temples, the Muslim holy sites of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Dome of the Rock.
After capturing East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Israel continued to grant the Waqf, which is funded and controlled by the Jordanian government, near-complete control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque area. However, Israeli security forces are present on the Mount and work in coordination with the Waqf. Jews are allowed to visit the site, but unlike Muslims they are strictly prohibited from praying on the grounds.
By midnight some of the worst violence in Jerusalem for years, seemed to have subsided, with most protesters dispersing. Police said Friday evening that force was used including “riot dispersal means following violent disturbances on the Temple Mount, during which hundreds of suspects began throwing stone, bottles and objects at police officers.” Video from the scene showed pitched battles, with Palestinians throwing chairs, shoes, rocks and bottles, and shooting fireworks, and police responding with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets. Protesters chanted “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great.” Several wounded demonstrators could be seen being carried away on stretchers.
There are growing fears that the confrontations in Jerusalem could intensify still further ahead of and on Sunday night, May 9. Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Worshipers will gather for intense evening prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Sunday night is also the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates the unification of Jerusalem when Israel captured the eastern half of the city, including the Old City, from the Jordanians in the 1967 war and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city.
There is nothing new about such a violent outburst. I was once on the Temple Mount when I was accosted by a Muslim demanding that I leave. I made a minor objection and thought I was about to get attacked. I left.
However, something like this weekend’s confrontation always has the potential to explode into a major nation-wide war. Let’s hope not.
My latest books:
I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II
Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!
by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)
You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.
82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!
You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.
by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)