Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Israeli security forces attempt to quell protesters outside the home of a Jewish family during a protest against Israel's plan to evict four Arab families in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. May 8, 2021.

A barrage of condemnations was directed at the State of Israel this weekend over intensive Arab violence taking place on the Temple Mount.

More than 90,000 Muslim worshipers arrived at the Temple Mount on Saturday for night prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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Riots were reported late Saturday night near the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, and later on also at the Temple Mount, where violence had erupted the day before.

Israeli security forces faced Arab rioters who threw stones and other objects, a smoke grenade and live fireworks at them. Israeli forces worked to disperse the rioters using standard crowd control measures. A number of detainees and injured were also reported at the scene.

An Israeli Border Guard Police officer was injured Saturday night in violence at the Temple Mount, as were some 53 rioters throughout Jerusalem.

In the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, two suspects were arrested after attacking police with pepper spray.

Police officers spotted a number of suspects causing damage at the scene, approached the suspects to make their arrest and were attacked by the suspects with pepper spray. During a search of the two suspects who were arrested, police discovered “assault tools.” The two suspects were taken for questioning.

Tens of thousands of Arabs also gathered Friday to observe the final weekend of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when Muslim “worshipers” on the Temple Mount set off fireworks and hurled rocks, flaming Molotov cocktails and other objects at Israeli Police trying to keep order. At least 17 Israeli police officers were injured in the attacks.

Saudi Arabia, UAE Slam Violence, Blaming Israel
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates issued a condemnation of the events taking place in Sheikh Jarrah and Israel’s intentions to carry out a court order to evict four Arab families from property owned by Jews.

Arab rage in the neighborhood was stoked further by praise from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization and Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group. Both Hamas and PIJ are backed by Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement broadcast on its state-owned Al Arabiya news outlet, “Saudi Arabia rejects Israel’s plans and measures to evict dozens of Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem and impose Israeli sovereignty over them.”

The United Arab Emirates – one of the first signatories to last year’s historic Abraham Accords – “strongly condemned” the violence and the Israeli Supreme Court ruling that upheld a lower court decision to allow Israeli owners of property in Sheikh Jarrah to evict the four Arab families (70 individuals) who for decades have insisted in court proceedings that the property is theirs. The property, owned by Jews, was cleared out by the Jordanian occupation following the 1948 war of independence, and made available for residence by Arab families.

UAE Minister of State for foreign Affairs Khalifa al-Marar underlined “the need for Israeli authorities to assume their responsibilities, in line with international law, to provide necessary protection to Palestinian civilians’ right to practice their religious and to prevent practices that violate the sanctity of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque” in the Temple Mount compound.

A Turkish spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote late Friday on Twitter, “Shame on Israel and those who keep silent in the face of disgraceful attacks. We call on everyone to stand up against the policies of occupation and aggression of this apartheid state.”

Erdogan has long insisted that the Temple Mount compound is exclusively Muslim property.

Islamic officials on the Temple Mount also maintain that any visit by Jewish Israelis is considered a “violation” of the sanctity of the compound, considered the third holiest site in Islam.

United Nations Joins Chorus of Condemnations
United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland called on “all to act responsibly and maintain calm. All must respect the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City in the interest of peace and stability,” he wrote in a tweet late Friday. “Political and religious leaders must act now,” he added, warning, “If unaddressed, the situation could spiral out of control.”

The day before, Wennesland said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned by the surge in tensions and violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.”

“I reiterate that ISF (Israeli security forces) must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. Perpetrators of violence on all sides must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice… I urge Israel to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.

“I call on political, religious and community leaders on all sides to stand firmly against violence, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric. If unaddressed, the situation could spiral out of control,” Wennesland said.

US Back to Moral Equivalency in Condemnation of Violence
The United States issued a statement expressing “extreme concern” about the ongoing confrontations initiated by the Arab “worshipers” at “Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount” and Arab residents of Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, the home of numerous terrorists and which has been an incubator for the terror attacks they have carried out.

“There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement. “This includes Friday’s attack on Israeli soldiers and reciprocal “price tag” attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, which we condemn in no uncertain terms.”

The US called on “Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence. . .Leaders across the spectrum must denounce all violence acts. Security services must. ensure the safety of all of Jerusalem’s residents and hold all perpetrators to account.”

The urge to paint Israel with the same brush as the Arab attackers who trashed the new office of a Knesset member on Thursday and injured 17 Israeli police officers in riots that took hours to bring back under control, appears to have returned to America’s foreign policy.

It is not clear whether the phrase “all of Jerusalem’s residents” was intended to include Jewish Israelis, nor whether the term “perpetrators” was even meant to include the Arab attackers who have repeatedly attempted to murder their Jewish neighbors and the multi-ethnic Israeli police officers — which includes Muslims as well as Jews — who repeatedly worked to end the violence.

Speaking for Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Price said the US was “also deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations.

“As we have consistently said, it is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions and acts of terrorism,” he said.

“The United States urges both sides to exercise decisive leadership and work cooperatively together to lower tensions, end the violence, and reinvigorate long-standing coordination mechanisms and relationships that have served their shared interests over the decades,” Price said, urging Israeli authorities to “approach the residents of Sheikh Jarrah with compassion and respect.”

There was no condemnation of the past three weeks of attacks perpetrated by the residents of Sheikh Jarrah against their Jewish neighbors, nor any recognition of the decades of court decisions and subsequent legal actions that had led to the Sheikh Jarrah situation.

Israel Police: ‘Will Not Allow Any Form of Violence’
In response to the violence, Israel Police used stun grenades and rubber bullets, closing the doors at the Al-Aqsa Mosque with worshipers still inside in a bid to regain control over the situation.

At least 17 police officers were hurt in the violence, along with 205 Arab rioters. More than half of the injured police officers required treatment in the city’s hospitals. According to the Red Crescent 108 of the injured rioters were also treated in Jerusalem hospitals. One Israeli officer remains in fair condition after he was hit in the face with a rock.

“We will not allow the disruption of order, any form of violence and attempts to harm officers while taking advantage of the freedom of religion and using it to promote a violent incident that includes hundreds of worshipers starting to riot and hurting police officers,” Israel Police said in a statement after forces managed to regain control over the violence.

Netanyahu Insists on Upholding Muslim ‘Right to Worship’
Israeli security officials who had met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday afternoon expressed concern over the potential for even more violence on Saturday night, which is Laylat al-Qadr, the most sacred night in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Israel Police head Kobi Shabtai, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat and several other security officials were in attendance.

Netanyahu insisted that Israel would protect the Muslim right to worship on the site. “Israel is acting responsibly to keep law and order in Jerusalem while protecting the right to worship in the Holy sites,” the prime minister said during the meeting.

Thousands of Arab Israelis Protest Nationwide
Numerous Arab Israelis also protested Israel’s management of the violence on the Temple Mount, demonstrating throughout the country Saturday and in some cases throwing rocks at police officers.

Buses carrying potential Arab Israeli protesters to the Temple Mount were stopped by Israeli police at a checkpoint on the Route 1 highway leading to the Israeli capital.

The move came after receiving intelligence that some of the travelers were planning to riot on the Temple Mount.

Many Arab passengers got off the buses and instead marched along the highway to reach the city.

Hamas, PIJ Terrorist Influence Clearly Seen
Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist leader Ziyad Nahala openly threatened on Friday to attack Israelis, saying in a statement that it was “impossible to remain silent about what is happening in Jerusalem – the enemy must expect a response at any moment.”

Likewise, Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization issued its own warning over the violence in Jerusalem, saying “Israel will pay the price.”

Some Muslim worshipers on Friday were waving Hamas flags, as seen in a video published by Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster.

Palestinian Authority Leadership Fans the Flames
For weeks PA and Fatah officials have been making statements encouraging violence, fighting and riots. PMW reported the adviser to PA and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas told Arabs to fight Israel – even to death – because “this is what Islam wants of you!”

Early last week, Fatah held mass rallies featuring masked men carrying assault rifles “for the sake of Jerusalem.”

A Fatah spokesperson last Thursday issued a statement justifying an attack one day earlier in which a terrorist killed at least one 19-year-old Israeli yeshiva student and injured two others of the same age, one seriously in a May 2, 2021 drive-by shooting attack at the Tapuach Junction in Samaria, near the Jewish city of Ariel.

The students, Yehuda Gueta, Benaya Peretz, and Amichai Hala, were wounded by Palestinian Authority terrorist Muntasir Shalabi.

Fatah spokesperson from the Nablus district Kayed Mi’ari said in a statement translated by the Palestinian Media Watch monitor group, that the attack “is the Palestinian people’s natural right to resist, defend its resources and dignity, and come out against the occupation’s forces and its settler herds, whose terror is increasing daily and becoming organized.

“They are targeting trees, rocks, children, elderly, women, and everything that is connected to the Palestinians. Therefore, we think that this is the Palestinian people’s natural right to deter this [Israeli] terror and defend itself and its resources with all available means.

“We think that the Palestinian people is responding to the call of Jerusalem, Jerusalem which is being subjected to a brutal attack that is strengthening: acts of Judaization, uprooting [Arab residents] in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in addition to the policy of dividing [prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque] according to times and areas which the occupation authorities are attempting to impose on Jerusalem…”

(A proposed law currently under review in the Knesset would allow for both Jews and Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount, in designated separate prayer times and areas of the site. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated repeatedly however that the Israeli government has no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount – which allows Jews to enter and visit, but not to prayer there or engage in any type of worship.)

In light of the current level of tension and violence, Magen David Adom Director General Eli Bin Israel’s and other emergency rescue organizations officials raised their alert level, reinforcing MDA teams in Jerusalem and additional areas.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.