JERUSALEM (JTA) – Jewish pilgrims were permitted to visit the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, coinciding with the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, sparking riots.
Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount on Sunday threw chairs and stones at police forces there, after it was announced that non-Muslims would visit the site, according to the Israel Police. Some of the worshippers barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and several were arrested. The police responded with what it called “riot control measures” to disperse the rioters.
Some 120 non-Muslim visitors were then allowed to visit the site that is holy to both Muslims and Jews.
The site usually is closed to non-Muslim visitors every year on the last days of Ramadan. It is the first time that Jerusalem Day and the last days of Ramadan have coincided in about 30 years.
The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is the third holiest site in Islam and is believed to be the site where the prophet Muhammad was transported from Mecca before ascending to heaven.
Jews are allowed to visit the site at certain times of the day and week, but are not allowed to pray or display Jewish symbols. Thousands visited the Temple Mount for Jerusalem Day last year.
Palestinian terror groups threatened renewed violence over the Temple Mount incident.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that there “will be consequences” to an “attack of the Temple Mount’s worshippers by Israeli forces.” He added: “This constitutes an escalation and a violation of the compound’s sanctity.” Hamas also accused Israel of an attempt to “Judaize the Temple Mount,” Ynet reported.
Israel “will pay a price” for allowing “the settlers” to harm the compound, Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a statement, which also said that the “Palestinian nation has the right to defend itself and its holy places against the Israeli aggression.”