Palestinian Authority says Jews observing Tisha B'Av on Temple Mount is 'dangerous escalation'

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Palestinian Authority officials condemned a visit by Jews visiting Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound in observance of Tisha B’Av, calling it “a dangerous Israeli escalation.”

A statement issued by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ office called the visit “a serious threat to the security and stability” and offensive to the feelings of Palestinians. “The government of Israel bears responsibility for this escalation,” the statement read, citing the Biden administration’s request to uphold the status quo on the compound. 

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On Sunday morning, roughly 1,300 Jews visited the , which is expected to be open into the afternoon as well, as usual. Early Sunday morning, Palestinians clashed with police officers on the Temple Mount plaza.

The police said that several young men had thrown stones at the police, who then dispersed the demonstrators at the scene. Three protesters were arrested, and according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, several demonstrators were lightly injured in the confrontation

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett conducted a situation assessment with regard to the Temple Mount on Sunday morning, attended by and police commissioner Kobi Shabtai.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that Bennett issued a directive that “Jews’ visits to the Temple Mount continue in an orderly and safe [fashion] while maintaining order at the site.” 

Mohammed Hamadeh, a Hamas spokesman in Jerusalem, issued a call on Sunday morning for Palestinians to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque plaza on the Temple Mount in large numbers and to remain there until Tuesday’s Eid al-Adha holiday prayers.

“The Israeli government’s giving freedom of action to settlers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound doesn’t constitute proof of Israeli sovereignty, rather the opposite,” Hamadeh said. “It involves a clear sign of Israeli helplessness, and the Palestinian people always have heroes ready and waiting to defend Al-Aqsa.”

Joint List Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, who visited the mosque on Sunday, called the visits by Jews to the Temple Mount “a serious escalation planned in advance.”

In reference to in East Jerusalem in May that preceded the rocket fire by Hamas at the Jerusalem area, the chairman of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh said: “A month after the Flag March, the [new Israeli] government of change is continuing with the violence and the suppression at Al-Aqsa, the Damascus Gate and But [weapons] fire, clubs and stun grenades just reinforce the simple truth: There is an entire people here under occupation who have the right to be freed from it.”

The council of Jerusalem’s Waqf Muslim religious trust issued a statement condemning what it said were “provocative steps and serious harm to the feelings of Muslims and worshippers, on this holy day of all times, when Muslims are preparing for Eid al-Adha.” The actions “are liable to spark fire and religious war,” the statement added. 

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