Arab protesters yelled at, shoved, spit and threw objects at a group of religious Jews, mostly children, visiting Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Tuesday, apparently without provocation as seen on a video of the incident that evoked scenes of historic anti-Semitic attacks.
The video showed a large group of Muslims accosting the group of 25 ultra-Orthodox Jews, pushing against them and chanting “Allahu Akbar,” or "Allah is the greatest."
One Arab woman was heard on the video shouting in Hebrew, “Get out of here!”
Eyewitnesses who were with the Jewish group told TheBlaze Thursday that one Jewish boy’s sidelocks were pulled, one Jewish man was hit in the head with a shoe and that pieces of a broken chair were thrown at them.
When several of the small children began crying, one of the adults in the Jewish group was heard on the video reassuring them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. There are lots of police here.”
The Temple Mount is considered the most sacred site in the Jewish faith and the third-holiest to Muslims.
Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told TheBlaze there has been an uptick in Arab disturbances on the Temple Mount over the past two weeks – coinciding with the major Jewish holiday of Passover – that included the throwing of stones, blocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police and visitors.
“There has been an increase in Arab violence both against tourists and Israelis visiting the Temple Mount,” Rosenfeld said, adding that as a result, the holy site was closed to visitors a number of times.
Jews visiting the site where the First and Second Temples once stood have been reporting recently that they are being harassed by Muslim activists.
Yisrael Fertig, who regularly accompanies Jewish groups to the Temple Mount, told TheBlaze he has been to the holy site dozens of times, but that his visit on Tuesday was the first time he was targeted in such a manner.
“They were spitting at us. The police didn’t realize what was happening. The Arabs began coming near us ... shouting at us, threatening they would throw things at us. Then they threw shoes. One guy got a shoe on his hat,” Fertig, who captured the incident on video, told TheBlaze in a telephone interview. “There were hundreds of Arabs (shouting) ‘Leave, get out of here!’”
Fertig saw Arab protesters lifting up chairs as if they were going to throw them, but were stopped by police. Instead, Fertig and another eyewitness said that they threw pieces of a broken chair at the group.
Fertig told TheBlaze that three of the children in the group saw a 5-year-old boy’s religious sidelocks pulled by one of the Arab protesters.
Shimshon Elbom, who accompanies Jewish groups on visits to the Temple Mount, said one of the men in his group was slapped.
“Groups [of Arabs] were there just waiting for Jews to come up and harass them. People were simply sitting there waiting,” he said.
Elbom and other Israeli activists who support the visit of Jews to the Temple Mount told TheBlaze that Muslims are being paid to sit along a path near a visitors’ entrance, and when religious Jews show up, they begin chanting “Allahu Akbar” and intimidating slogans.
On the footage of Tuesday’s events, dozens of Arabs could be heard chanting, “In spirit, in blood, we will redeem you Al Aqsa!”
Yehuda Glick, director of the Israeli organization Haliba which promotes Jews’ visits to the Temple Mount, organized the visit on Tuesday, but did not join the group, because he has been banned by Israeli police from visiting the site for four months.
“We feel that today, there’s no freedom of human rights for Jews on the Temple Mount. Today, the Temple Mount is in the hands of violent people instead of it being open to those who try to promote freedom of prayer for all,” Glick told TheBlaze.
While Israel’s police run security around and on the Temple Mount, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf controls the religious sites, including the Al Aqsa Mosque.
“The Jewish vision is that the Temple Mount should be a world center for those faithful in one God. It should be a center for the prophesy of Isaiah that all the nations will lay down their swords, and that from here will come a message of no more war,” Glick said. “Unfortunately, today it’s in the hands of a very violent religion that instigates hate, violence, and terror. We think this is wrong … violence is not the way and the Temple Mount is not the place. The Temple Mount is the center for prayer to God.”
Glick noted that he was particularly saddened by Tuesday’s harassment incident as it came less than a week before Israelis mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Glick is now in his 29th day of a hunger strike which he says he will end if Israeli police either rescind the ban against him or take him to court immediately to formally present the reason for his temporary restriction from the Temple Mount.
Police contend he has been provocative to Arabs on the site, a charge he and his supporters deny. One of his supporters told TheBlaze that an Israeli court has in the past overturned a police decision to deny him access to the Temple Mount.
Asked why he thought the group was attacked, Glick answered with sarcasm, “They breathed, they walked, they’re Jewish. These are things that are very provocative.”
Over the past week, Israeli police have arrested two dozen Palestinians involved in the unrest.
Police spokesman Rosenfeld tweeted on Saturday: "Arab suspects riot throwing blocks/stones on Temple Mount as tourists visit. Police units respond dispersing rioters.Situation under control."
Rosenfeld told TheBlaze that he could not confirm claims made to TheBlaze that Arabs are being paid to instigate provocations along the tourist route.
“Israeli police coordinate with the Waqf to maintain the status on the Temple Mount to keep things calm and quiet, but there has been an increase in serious provocative incidents including an increase in the level of violence in the past two weeks,” he said.
Of Tuesday’s incident involving the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group, Rosenfeld said: “Arab women and men walked around nearby and attempted to harass them. Police units arrived on the scene and separated the sides. The visit continued and police protected the small group of Israelis and young children,” adding that one Arab protester was arrested at the scene.
Israeli blogger Yisrael Medad, who first posted the video of the incident, told TheBlaze that Israeli security officials do not allow any overt expression of Jewish faith on the Temple Mount, fearing it will provoke Muslim violence. Therefore, while Jews are allowed to visit the site, they are not allowed to visibly pray or read from prayer books while there.
Of Tuesday’s incident, Medad wrote on his blog at the Jerusalem Post: “The background is simple. Some two dozen or so Jewish children ascended with their fathers to the Temple Mount. Children, not even teenagers … . The Muslims revealed evil and no remorse. The police - worse. They had the ability and did nothing. In the middle of Jerusalem. For shame.”
“The children represent the future, and Muslims don't like what they see there,” the pro-Israel blog Elder of Ziyon wrote, “Just watch the video and decide - who respects their holy sites and who desecrates them?”
Here is the video of the incident:
(H/T: Yisrael Medad)