Security forces seized pipe bombs at the Temple Mount on Sunday, hours before the Jewish New Year commenced in the evening. Intelligence information had been gathered by security forces revealing plans for a riot on the Temple Mount, with rocks and firecrackers stockpiled by protesters and a barricade erected at the al-Aqsa mosque.
The Temple Mount, holy for Jews as the site of the First and Second Temple and also for Muslims, was opened to visitors on Tuesday morning during Rosh Hashanah. Jews are banned from praying at the site due to fears that it will exacerbate tensions, and may only visit in small numbers. Clashes ensued on Monday night before Palestinian youths barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa mosque with rocks and fireworks, and yesterday rioters threw rocks towards the entrance of the Temple Mount site as visitors entered. From Sunday to Tuesday, 26 Palestinian protesters were arrested, and 14 Israeli police officers lightly injured.
Acting Police Commissioner Bentzi Sau on Tuesday said that “over the past three days, we have seen attempts by a number of individuals who are trying to aggravate and exacerbate the security situation in Jerusalem, and destabilise the security and peaceful coexistence in the city”. He said that an “upsurge” in attacks including petrol-bomb throwing has led to the deployment of hundreds of additional police officers in the Temple Mount area.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II expressed his concerns about the escalations, saying that any continued provocations “will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel”, with Jordan having “no choice” but to take action.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arranged a meeting with senior officials after Rosh Hashanah concluded at sunset yesterday. At the meeting, convened to discuss the security situation in the Jerusalem area, he said: “We will use all necessary measures to fight against those who throw stones, firebombs, pipe bombs and fireworks in order to attack civilians and police. On the eve of the holiday it was again proven that throwing stones can kill. Such actions will be met with very sharp punitive and preventive responses. We will lead systemic changes and will set a new standard of deterrence and prevention”.
The meeting followed the death of 64 year old Israeli national, Alexander Levlovitz. Levlovitz was killed on Sunday night in a car accident, reported to have been caused by a rock-throwing attack on his car in Jerusalem.