The flare-up of tensions at Har Habayis and elsewhere is not a spontaneous protest but the result of deliberate incitement on the part of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman charged on Sunday.
Heavy contingents of Israeli and Palestinian police kept watch over the holy site on Sunday following an Abbas call for Palestinians to prevent by “all means” what he termed the “fierce onslaught” of Jewish “settlers” from entering it.
Every year during the festival period, there is a surge in the number of Jewish visitors to the Old City of Yerushalayim, which has in the past provided a pretext for Palestinian violence.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, speaking in the Qatari capital Doha where he lives in exile, said on Thursday: “We call on all our people inside the country to hurry up to al-Aqsa to defend it.”
Poskim have issued proclamations that Jews are forbidden by Halachah from entering Har Habayis.
Unknown vandals spray-painted an anti-Semitic image equating a Star of David to a swastika in the area, a passersby discovered Sunday morning. Police opened an investigation into the incident.
Lieberman said that the remarks reveal Abbas’s “true face” as a “Holocaust denier who speaks about a Palestinian state free of Jews.” He said Abbas was and remains an anti-Semite.
“Behind [Abbas’] suit and the pleasantries aimed at the international community, he ramps up incitement against Israel and the Jews and calls for a religious war,” he said.
“Abbas has effectively joined the frontlines of extremist Islamist organizations, such as the Islamic State and the al-Nusra front who sanctify religious war,” he added.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any intention to restrict Palestinian access to the site and also blamed “Palestinian extremists” for the violence.
Police have been dispatched to quell Palestinian rioters a number of times in recent weeks. Last week, as tensions rose again, security forces barred access to the area to Muslim men under the age of 50, those most inclined toward violence.