According to media reports, Israeli officials have accused Palestinian leaders of incitement over this week’s violence at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Israel Radio news says that senior Israeli security officials have accused both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas of having stirred up tension at the site. Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday praised Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount, saying, “Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood … Every shahid (martyr) will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded.” He said in a meeting with activists at his Ramallah office, “Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They [Israelis] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.”
The Temple Mount, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, has become a flashpoint for violence. Jews are permitted to visit the site only in small numbers and are banned from praying there for fear that it would provoke a violent response. Earlier this week, Palestinian youths, who had barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa Mosque atop the Temple Mount with rocks, fireworks and pipe bombs, began attacking non-Muslim visitors. Israeli police and border guards entered the Temple Mount area and a serious clash ensued.
Following the violence and a recent spate of rock-throwing attacks on Israelis in the West Bank and Jerusalem, including one which killed a man on Sunday evening, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to “fight through all means necessary against rock throwers, firebomb and pipe bomb throwers.” He yesterday visited areas in and around Jerusalem particularly effected by the incidents and announced new measures to crack down on such attacks, including minimum sentences for offenders.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reports that Israel has reassured Jordan that it has no intention of altering the status quo on the Temple Mount, following Jordanian concern and criticism over the violence.