May 1, 2022
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.
MORE UPDATES FROM ISRAEL
For several weeks, I’ve been covering the explosive clashes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. While the story about the Russian attack on Ukraine rightly grabs the headlines, the situation that has emerged out of the Muslim Ramadan is important to note. Here’s what occurred this week.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians worshipped at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on the last Friday afternoon of the fasting month of Ramadan after early morning clashes again erupted at the flashpoint holy site. The Islamic Waqf that administers the compound estimated that some 160,000 people attended prayers. Afterward, hundreds of Palestinians protested in front of the Dome of the Rock shrine waving Palestinian and Islamic flags, but there are no immediate reports of fresh violence.
Following a security assessment after the prayers, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai vowed the police would remain vigilant.
The Palestinian foreign ministry responded. “What restraint are they talking about? Every day forces go into the compound, beat people, fire rubber bullets and tear gas at worshipers, and this Israel calls restraint?”
Earlier Friday, fighting had broken out between Palestinians and police on the Temple Mount, which has seen recurring clashes in recent weeks. Palestinians at the contested Jerusalem holy site threw rocks and launched fireworks toward officers and the Western Wall, located beneath the Mount, which police said led them to enter the compound to disperse the rioters. At least one stone thrown by the rioters landed in the Western Wall prayer area, police said. Masked men also waved the flag of the Hamas terror group, launched fireworks and chanted, “We’ll sacrifice our lives for Al-Aqsa.”
The clashes ended around an hour after they began when other Palestinians in the compound intervened, convincing the stone throwers and the police to pull back.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 42 people were hurt, 22 of whom were taken to the hospital. None of the injuries were serious, according to the Red Crescent.
The Jerusalem Old City site is the holiest place in Judaism, as the location of the two biblical temples, and home to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam. Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from its Jordanian occupiers in the 1967 war and extended sovereignty there. It allows Jews to visit but not pray there; the Muslim Waqf trust administers the holy sites atop the Mount, known in Arabic as the Haram al-Sharif, or Holy Sanctuary.
There’s surely more to come. We’ll see. Stay tuned.
Readers of my Wise on the Middle East blog will be fascinated by my latest book MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!