CMEP Bulletin: Clashes on Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Compound as Jewish New Year Begins
Israeli police found pipe bombs at the entrance to Al Aqsa Mosque Sunday morning during what they described as a preemptive operation. Palestinian protestors who had barricaded themselves inside Al Aqsa Mosque responded to the Israeli police with stones and firecrackers. Israeli police said the Palestinians were intending to disrupt Jewish visitors to Al Aqsa compound ahead of Jewish New Year which began Sunday night. Palestinians said they were defending Al Aqsa from Israeli attempts to change the rules governing the site. Israeli police and Palestinian protestors continued to clash through Tuesday when Israeli police were finally able to restore relative calm.
Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s offices issued statements in response to the clashes on Al Aqsa compound. Abbas’ office condemned “the attack by the occupier’s military and police against the al-Aqsa Mosque and the aggression against the faithful who were there.” Netanyahu’s office said, “Israel will use any means to maintain the status quo and the rule of law on the Temple Mount. It is the country’s duty and right to act against rioters in order to enable freedom of religious practice in this holy place.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah II told Israel, “[Jordan is] very concerned and angered with the recent escalation’s … in Al Aqsa Mosque.” Abdullah continued, “We have gotten reassurances from the Israeli government that this would not happen. Unfortunately, these are reassurances we have heard in the past. Any more provocations in Jerusalem, will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel; and Jordan will have no choice, but to take action, unfortunately.”
Jordan, under its peace treaty with Israel, administers Muslim religious affairs at Al Aqsa Compound. It recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv for three months at the end of last year following similar clashes on Al Aqsa Compound.
Both the United States and European Union urged both Israelis and Palestinians to show restraints. US State Department spokesman John Kirby said, “We strongly condemn all acts of violence. It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve unchanged the historic status quo on the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount in word and in practice.”
While maintaining that “It is crucial that all parties demonstrate calm and restraint and full respect for the status quo of the holy sites,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic also said, “The reported violence and escalation [at Al Aqsa] constitute a provocation and incitement.”