2009 Temple Mount riots
The 2009 Temple Mount riots by Muslim Palestinians erupted on 27 September 2009 and were ongoing as of 25 October. Violence spread through East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank, and included throwing of Molotov cocktails and stones at Israeli security forces and civilians. Israeli police responded with arrests of rioters and sporadic age-based restriction of access to the Temple Mount. Several dozen rioters, police and Israeli civilians have been injured.
The Temple Mount is the site of the former Jewish Temple and is the holiest site in Judaism; it is also the site of the existing al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, and is the third-holiest site in Islam. Israel gained control of the Mount in 1967 from Jordan, and incorporated it along with the rest of East Jerusalem into its (largely unrecognised) capital of Jerusalem; the Islamic holy sites on the Mount are managed by the Islamic waqf, while Israel is in charge of overall administration. The permanent status of the Temple Mount is generally considered to be determined by future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Timeline of violence
- 27 September
On the eve of Yom Kippur, a group of tourists entered the Temple Mount accompanied by Israel Police officers. Some 150 Muslim worshippers gathered around them, some hurling stones. 18 policemen and 17 worshippers were lightly injured. That evening, on Yom Kippur, Palestinians in the north Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya hurled firebombs and stones at Israeli security forces and set a number of trees on fire. Five officers were lightly injured.
- 28 September
- 4 October
- 5 October
A group of Palestinians from the southeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud stoned Haredi Jewish men who had stopped to pray at the cemetery on the nearby Mount of Olives. Later in the day, rocks were again thrown at police officers inside Ras al-Amud. Intermittent stone-throwing and other forms of rioting continued in east Jerusalem throughout the day. Near the Shuafat security checkpoint in north Jerusalem, Palestinian youths hurled rocks at Israeli border policemen, lightly wounding one officer. In the afternoon, a Palestinian youth stabbed a border policeman in the neck. Youths from Shuafat then began to riot, throwing stones at border policemen throughout the evening. On the outskirts of Ramallah, some 50 Palestinian youths hurled rocks and other debris at Israeli soldiers stationed nearby.
- 25 October
Rioters threw Molotov cocktails and stones at Israeli police forces stationed at the Temple Mount. A police force entered the Temple Mount compound and arrested 18. Nine police officers were lightly injured and 21 rioters arrested. A female Australian journalist was lightly injured by a rock. Three masked Arab men were arrested in the afternoon after hurling stones at Israeli security forces in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. In the Old City of Jerusalem, Arabs hurled stones at passersby and policemen. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
Islamic Movement in Israel
Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel's northern branch, told followers in early October that should Muslims have to choose between renouncing the al-Aqsa Mosque and becoming martyrs they will choose the latter.
Should the State of Israel make us choose... we will clearly choose to be martyrs, we are a nation that does not give up, we will die and win; the al-Aqsa Mosque is not a matter that can be given up on, and we shall win, God willing.
On 5 October, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad condemned Israel's decision to restrict entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount in the wake of the riots, and called on Palestinians "to confront Israel".
We call on the Palestinian public to confront Israel and its plans, that are intended to prevent the Palestinian people from fulfilling their aspirations of establishing a Palestinian state in the occupied territories.
The Authority also decried "Israel's attempts to conduct Jewish prayer services in the Aksa compound" and urged the world "to force Israel to halt its efforts to Judaize the city."
In early October, Hamas called for a new intifada (uprising) to "defend" Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque, located in the Temple Mount compound. The group issued a statement blaming Israel for the violence and saying that "harming al-Aqsa will blow up in the face of the Zionist aggression."
Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal said on 25 October declared that Jerusalem's fate would be decided by confrontation rather than negotiation, and called for angry protests throughout the Arab world.
The Israelis want to divide al-Aqsa Mosque, and this is not all. They want to hold their religious ceremonies in the mosque... in preparation for demolishing it and building their temple there... Jerusalem is all of Jerusalem, not only Abu-Dis. The Arabs and Muslims are [the city's] residents, and the Zionists have no claim over it... I call for angry protests in Palestine and in the Arab world. Today, protests began in [the] Gaza [Strip], and we hope they will spread to the West Bank. It is important for there to be a united Palestinian position. We must send a message to the world: In light of the settlements and actions in Jerusalem, there are no negotiations and we must rethink our steps.
- Abe Selig, East Jerusalem marred by Yom Kippur violence, Jerusalem Post 28-09-2009
- Efrat Weiss, 35 lightly injured in Temple Mount riots, YnetNews 27-09-2009
- Efrat Weiss, Arabs riot in east Jerusalem on Yom Kippur, Ynet News 28-09-2009
- Abe Selig, Calm holds in Jerusalem's Old City, Jerusalem Post 06-10-2009
- Efrat Weiss, Jerusalem: Temple Mount riots resume, Ynet News 25-10-2009
- 'Force will determine Jerusalem's fate', Jerusalem Post 25-10-2009
- Sharon Roffe-Ofir, Islamic Movement: No one can keep us out of Temple Mount, Ynet News 05-10-2009
- PA calls on Palestinians to confront Israel and its plans, Jerusalem Post 05-10-2009