Jordanian, Palestinian and left-wing Israeli officials on Sunday, Jerusalem Day, slammed Israel for allowing Jews into the Temple Mount compound in the capital’s Old City — an unusual move during the last ten days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — and for the ensuing clashes, but Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan dismissed the criticism, saying his policy was to make the contested compound open to those who want to visit it.
It was the first time in three decades that non-Muslims were let into the site during the final days of Ramadan, which coincided this year with Jerusalem Day — the 52nd anniversary of the unification of the capital in the Six Day War.
Police said that after the decision was made to let them in, Palestinians inside the compound started a riot “that included the hurling of stones, chairs and various objects. Subsequently, Jerusalem District Commander Maj. Gen. Doron Yadid ordered police forces to enter the Temple Mount and deal with the rioters.”
There were no reports of injuries. By mid-afternoon, police reported that the situation was again calm.
Hundreds of Jews showed up early Sunday morning at the Temple Mount entrance, demanding access to the site — the holiest in Judaism and the third-holiest to Muslims, who refer to it as the Al Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary. Following a security assessment, police decided to let them in after suppressing the Muslim demonstration.
Police said later in the morning that clashes broke out again and that hundreds of rioters threw rocks and chairs at Israeli security personnel. According to Ir Amim, a left-wing group, the violence was renewed after police closed the entrance to the Al Aqsa Mosque, and worshipers attempted to gain entry. Palestinian reports said at least five people were detained and removed from the site.
Several Jordanian ministers and politicians blamed Israel for the events, and the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “unequivocally condemns the continuation of Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa, by the break-in of extremists [to the Temple Mount] in a defiant manner with the backing of security forces,” according to a Hebrew translation by the Ynet news site.