Police Raid Har HaBayis to Prevent Riot

YERUSHALAYIM -
Palestinian demonstrators burn tires during a protest against President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

After preparing for the scenario, dozens of police and Border Guards raided Har HaBayis early Friday as an Arab mob began to organize for a riot. Arabs started massing at 4:30 a.m., and after prayers, which concluded at about 7:00. Arabs began surrounding officers stationed at the site, calling nationalistic slogans and inciting to violence. Security officials used anti-riot methods to disperse the crowds. No injuries were reported among Israeli personnel.

Police had been prepared for rioting on Har Habayis in the wake of the opposition by the Palestinian Authority to President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan. Security forces are on alert throughout Yehudah and Shomron, anticipating unrest on Friday at checkpoints and other sites. The PA has called for demonstrations Friday afternoon.

With that, Israeli officials were encouraged by what they said was the relative mildness of the PA’s response to the plan. In a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas threatened to rip up all agreements with Israel, and to end the security coordination between PA police and IDF soldiers. In the letter, Abbas slams the U.S. peace plan, saying that “it is an attempt by the U.S. and Israel to override the Oslo Accords. The PA will see itself as free to ignore the agreements it signed with Israel, including the security coordination on both sides.”

But PA security officials told Yisrael Hayom that despite the bluster, security coordination was unlikely to end. “We have not received any orders to do anything differently, and we are still preventing mass riots and attacks on soldiers at checkpoints and the like,” the officials said. “There is no real scenario for Abbas to end security coordination. If the West Bank falls into chaos that would just give Hamas a greater opportunity to move in and take advantage of the mayhem. The security coordination is as important for us as it is for you.”