New Clashes on Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif as Rioters Throw Rocks, Jewish Pilgrims Ascend
New clashes between Muslim Palestinian worshippers and Israel Police officers broke out on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem on Thursday morning. The violence comes as Jewish pilgrims visit the site for the last time until it is closed to Jews through the end of Ramadan on May 2. Masked rioters locked themselves in Al-Aqsa Mosque after early morning prayers and threw rocks and explosives that had been stored in the mosque at police officers, who used riot dispersal methods to stop them. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned Thursday morning that the group will respond with violence to Israelis ascending the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Ynet reported. Meanwhile, thousands of Israelis packed into the Western Wall Plaza on Thursday morning for the holiday’s Priestly Blessing. The Jerusalem District commander of the Israel Police, Superintendent Doron Turgeman, said in a statement, “We are making a great effort to maintain the safety and security of the public visiting Jerusalem during the holidays. There are many challenges ahead, and we will continue with a wide range of preparations and professional activities so that the public can celebrate, travel, and pray safely and securely.” The US Embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday issued a warning to US citizens in Israel reminded them “to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as security incidents often take place without warning. The security environment is complex and can change quickly depending on the political situation and recent events.” Because of this, US government employees and their family members have been barred from entering the Old City of Jerusalem from dusk to dawn and on Fridays, including the areas around Damascus, Herod’s, and Lions’ gates.