Arabs Riot on Har HaBayis as Jews Ascend to Mark Yerushalayim Day

Jews pray at the Kosel on Yerushalayim Day, Sunday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Rioters holed up in the Al-Aqsa Mosque threw large rocks at Israeli officers as Jewish visitors began to arrive at the site Sunday morning, police said.

Arriving at the site, Otzma Yehudit MK Itamar Ben Gvir pointed to the rioters and said: “We need to get them out of here. Those who riot and harm the state shouldn’t be here. I prove to them that we are landlords in Yerushalayim.”

On the weekend, Hamas issued a statement calling for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Yehudah and Shomron, and Yerushalayim, along with Israel’s Arab minority, “to rise up on Sunday to defend Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

MK Itamar Ben Gvir makes his way to visit Har HaBayis through the the Mughrabi Bridge, Sunday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Despite calls for a rethink of the march from some of his left-wing coalition allies, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has so far refused to countenance any changes.

“The flag parade will be held as usual according to the planned route, as it has been for decades,” his office said on Friday, adding that it would review the situation regularly.

Overnight Motzoei Shabbos, police said an explosive device was thrown at undercover Border Police officers operating in the Deheisheh refugee camp. One officer sustained light injuries in the incident.

According to police, rioters threw rocks and explosive devices at the Border Police officers when they left the camp.

Defense officials have tried to ease tensions ahead of the march. On Motzoei Shabbos, the commander of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Mag. Gen. Ghasan Alyan released a video statement saying the flag march would not harm the status quo on Har HaBayis. He warned that Israel would respond harshly to any provocations and that another round of violence would harm the recent steps Israel had taken to ease economic conditions in Gaza and the PA.

“We are at a time of increasing incitement. I have read the lies and the stories and I am here to make clear: The flag march has been held for over 30 years. It isn’t new. The march is held on Jerusalem Day. That isn’t new. Even the flag march route isn’t new. The status quo in Jerusalem that remains intact for Jews, Muslims, and Christians also aren’t new. And we will not allow it to be harmed for anyone’s sake,” Alyan said in the recorded statement.

Some 10,000 people took part in events marking 55 years to the liberation of Yerushalayim at the Kosel on Motzoei Shabbos. During the festivities, a 1,000-meter Israeli flag was unfurled at the Kosel Plaza.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Yerushalayim Municipality, the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry, and the Yerushalayim Development Authority were involved in organizing the Yerushalayim Day events.

The events were held against increasing threats from Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations to disturb the peace during Sunday’s planned flag march should participants pass through the Damascus Gate.

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