Hundreds of Palestinians harassed a group of Jews visiting the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, by shouting at them, jeering, shooing them with their hands and holding up the newly-coined three finger salute to celebrate the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers two weeks ago.
The incident, captured by several phone cameras and posted on YouTube, occurred on Wednesday, and involved children attending a Hamas-sponsored summer camp on the holy site who also gestured aggressively and shouted "Allahu akbar" in unison with the large crowd, as the group of 40 Jewish visitors walked by, eyewitnesses reported.
One visitor said that Muslim demonstrators also threw shoes at the Jewish group.
The Temple Institute, which posted one of the videos, described the incident as a “Muslim hate-fest.”
A Muslim woman displayed three fingers at the Jewish visitors. The hand gesture has gained popularity among Palestinians wishing to celebrate the abduction of three Israeli teens two weeks ago. (Image source: YouTube)
“Hundreds of Muslim men and women and a Hamas organized summer camp for Muslim children greeted the Jews with thunderous jeers and curses, waving their shoes and holding up their newly minted obscenity: a three-finger ‘victory’ sign, signifying their gloating pride in the kidnapping of the three Jewish boys. For more than one hour the Muslim mob followed and lunged at the Jewish worshipers,” wrote the Temple Institute, an organization dedicated to teaching about the ancient temple and one day rebuilding it according to biblical specifications.
The leader of the tour group, Asaf Fried, told the Israeli news site Arutz Sheva, that his group was accosted the moment they entered the site.
"It started with children in a Hamas summer camp, continued with women who joined and slowly the wave of attackers swelled. More and more older people joined the calls of 'Khaybar Khaybar O Jews,'" said Fried, referring to the notorious Battle of Khaybar in 629 in which the prophet Muhammad's forces defeated the Jews.
Israeli police had to step in but even they had difficulty keeping the Muslim rioters away from the tour group.
Multiple Jewish groups have reported feeling threatened during visits to the Temple Mount. Israel’s Shin Bet security services last month revealed that a top Hamas operative had admitted the group pays monthly salaries of between $1,150 and $1,440 to Israeli Arabs for the express purpose of harassing and throwing stones at Jews visiting the holy site.
On its YouTube posting of Wednesday’s incident, the Temple Institute noted that the Jewish tour group had been planning to pray on the holy site for the release of the three abducted Israeli teens - Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen - who the Israeli government says was kidnapped by Hamas, though no reputable claim of responsibility or demand of ransom has been issued by the group.
“It wasn't just an unpleasant feeling, but rather a feeling that at any second someone could whip out a knife and stab someone," Fried said. "The local rules of visiting prevent us from praying out loud and we are forced to receive those rules and pray in our hearts, but they are allowed to curse, shout and throw things at us.”
Though Israeli police control the entrance and exit to the Temple Mount, which is known by Muslims as the “Holy Sanctuary,” it is Jordan’s Waqf, or Islamic Trust, that runs the site.
Here are two videos showing the incident. At the 1:30 mark on the first, a Muslim woman appeared to slap at the camera shooting the video. The second video shows the Palestinian children taunting the Jewish visitors: