Dozens of masked Palestinian protesters hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at police officers on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City Sunday morning, before being pushed back into the Al-Aqsa Mosque by security forces who were rushed to the area.
According to police, the protesters had stockpiled homemade explosives, firecrackers and wooden boards inside the mosque, with the intention of attacking thousands of Jewish worshipers gathered below for prayers at the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av, a fast and day of mourning that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Jewish Temples.
“Masked rioters fled into the mosque and started to throw stones and blocks at police from inside Al-Aqsa Mosque. They threw fireworks directly at police,” a police statement said, adding that a number of police were wounded.
Some 800 Jews, among them Jewish Home’s Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, ascended the Temple Mount on Sunday morning.
Under the terms of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, the Temple Mount remains under Jordanian custodianship through the Waqf authorities, who maintain administrative charge of the holy site. Jewish visitors are allowed on the Temple Mount but are forbidden to pray there.
Amman on Sunday condemned a visit by Jews to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount earlier in the day as a provocative act designed to ignite hostilities after violent clashes at the holy site between Arab rioters and Israeli security forces left several officers injured.
Jordan called the clashes a “violation” of the site. Some 1,200 Israelis visited the Temple Mount on Sunday, which was Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning and fasting commemorating the destruction of two Jewish Temples.
Jews consider the Temple Mount, formerly the site of the two Temples, to be Judaism’s holiest site. Muslims believe the compound which today contains the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, known in Arabic as the Holy Sanctuary, is the third holiest site in Islam.
“The violation of the sacredness of Haram al-Sharif or holy sanctuary, and the assault against its guards and the worshipers, are a violation of the feelings of all Arabs and Muslims and are designed to ignite further hostility,” Jordanian minister Mohammad Momani said, according to state-run media.
Ensuing skirmishes between police and Muslim rioters on the Temple Mount left four police officers injured. Several Arab protesters were arrested. Footage uploaded by the Israel Police of Sunday’s incident appeared to show masked Palestinian protesters throwing rocks and firing firecrackers at officers.
Vandals targeted a Conservative synagogue in the central Israeli city of Modiin on Saturday night, during the congregation’s opening service of the Tisha B’Av fast.
The front doors of the Yedid Nefesh synagogue were barricaded with potted plants, and ropes were tied at two locations to trip congregants who were exiting the building.
In the Jewish tradition, the Second Temple is said to have been destroyed because of “baseless hatred” — an internal struggle between various factions of the Jewish people.
Magnitude 5.1 earthquake strikes close to Pakistan capital of Islamabad - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck very close to Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, the US Geological Survey (USGS) says.
Although the quake had a moderate magnitude, its epicentre was only 16 kilometres north-east of the populous city.
It struck at 1:59am local time on Saturday and was very shallow, 26 kilometres deep, the USGS said.
Residents of the Pakistani capital reported buildings and vehicles shaking after the quake hit, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.
The quake was felt in several Pakistani cities in the provinces of eastern Punjab and north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ghulam Rasul, a senior meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department said.
The local meteorologists put the size of the quake at magnitude 4.6 and the depth at just 10 kilometres.
Pakistan straddles part of the boundary where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making the country susceptible to earthquakes.
It was hit by a magnitude 7.6 quake on October 8, 2005 that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
A magnitude 7.7 earthquake devastated several areas in south-western Baluchistan province in September 2013, killing at least 370 people and leaving 100,000 homeless.