Although Israel was on a record-high terrorist alert for the two-day Jewish holy day of Rosh Hashanah, which just concluded, the Jewish New Year passed without major security incidents or terrorist attacks.
Tensions nevertheless remained high, with Muslims and police clashing across eastern Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.
On Tuesday night, Arabs sparred with Israeli police in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sur Baher and Silwan, throwing rocks and fireworks at the police and setting garbage cans on fire.
Also in recent days, Arabs repeatedly scuffled with Israeli police on the Temple Mount. On Monday, as Jewish visitors toured the Bible’s holiest site, Arabs who had barricaded themselves in the black-capped al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount shot fireworks from within the mosque.
The Israel Police released footage that showed rocks being thrown from a mosque door and masked Arabs leaving the mosque to throw stones at passersby. Additionally, the police said that Arabs threw rocks at officers around the Lion’s Gate entrance to the Old City.
“The visits [by Jews] to the Temple Mount are taking place alongside Muslim prayers as usual,” police spokesman Eli Levi said.
Incitement over the Temple Mount has been on the rise and that is reportedly fueling the unrest, in part, according to the police. Muslims are known to be against Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount – and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has repeatedly threatened “repercussions” if Jews visit the holy site.
The number of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount has increased steadily in recent years, rising to a record high of more than 50,000 during the past year, according to The Times of Israel.
The clashes in the eastern parts of Jerusalem took place three nights in a row, with police expecting the unrest to continue for weeks to come, including through the upcoming holiday of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, the most significant day on the Jewish calendar.
“So far the incidents in Jerusalem have been contained,” Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai said on Tuesday, during a tour of the Temple Mount. “We are ready for any scenario.”
Before the holidays, Israeli police deployed around 20,000 police officers across the country to prevent terrorist activity, especially in Jerusalem and the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland of the Jewish nation.
Israel’s security forces continue to crack down on terrorist groups, making preemptive arrests of terror suspects to prevent attacks. Already this year, they have succeeded in stopping more than 300 “significant” terror attacks.
“We foiled 312 significant terrorist attacks, stabbings, shootings, suicide attacks, and have made 2,110 arrests” since the beginning of the year, head of Shin Bet, Ronen Bar said before the holidays.
Despite the tensions, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday to express his good wishes for the Jewish New Year.
“Both leaders expressed their hope that, in the coming year, civil and security cooperation will be enhanced and quiet and security will be restored,” an official statement from Herzog’s office said.
On Monday, Abbas called Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz to wish him a happy new year and to discuss the security situation. During the call, according to The Times of Israel, “Gantz noted the importance of maintaining security and public order in the West Bank during the holiday … and stressed the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility in that regard.”
Abbas’ call came shortly after he denounced Israel as an “apartheid regime” during the United Nations General Assembly in New York; he also said there that Israel, “through its premeditated and deliberate policies, [was] destroying the two-state solution.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.