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Ramadan Violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque: Palestinian Riots & the Israeli Response

Palestinians walk at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City May 21, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

As Muslims around the world begin to observe the holy month of Ramadan, many media outlets have been particularly focused on connecting Ramadan to the ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza, as well as the possibility of rising tensions surrounding prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Some outlets have referenced incidents of violence between Israeli police and Palestinian rioters that have occurred in the mosque and its environs during Ramadan over the past few years.

However, these reports fail to properly convey what led to these disturbances, either leaving out who started the melee or placing the blame solely on Israeli security forces.

For example, The Washington Post described the 2021 violence as “fighting between police and Palestinians,” and the 2023 disturbances as “an Israeli police raid last spring to clear protesters who had locked themselves inside.”

Contrary to the Post’s description, however, the Israeli police were not simply fighting “Palestinians” or mere “protesters.”

Similarly, The Guardian referred to the 2022 and 2023 eruptions of violence simply as “police raids on the mosque,” while The New York Times has described them as “raids into the Aqsa compound by baton-wielding police forces firing tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets who have clashed with Palestinians throwing stones and setting off fireworks.”

As will be seen below, in the violent eruptions that occurred on the Temple Mount during Ramadan in recent years, each incident was initiated by Palestinian rioters and instigators, and was responded to with force by the Israeli police, working to protect innocent worshipers, fellow security officers, and innocent bystanders outside the holy compound.

Although there had been violent disturbances between Palestinian rioters and the Israeli police throughout Ramadan in 2021, the violence peaked in the last weekend of the holy month (May 7 to 10).

On the night of May 7, following the last Friday prayers of Ramadan, Israeli police were compelled to respond with force after officers stationed on the Temple Mount were attacked with stone slabs, rocks, bottles, and firecrackers. In order to stem the violence and disrupt the rioters, Israeli security forces were forced to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque itself.

According to Israeli authorities, these projectiles had been stockpiled in previous days throughout the holy complex in anticipation of that Friday’s disturbances, and were reportedly meant to be used against Israeli security forces and against Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall below.

Following that Friday’s violence, intermittent disturbances continued throughout the weekend and into Monday, May 10, at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex and the surrounding area.

That rioting included the barricading of the mosque as well as attacks against Israeli security forces with rocks, firecrackers, and other projectiles. It was only on that Monday that Israeli police were finally able to restore peace and order to the Temple Mount compound.

In 2022, Ramadan violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque was once again instigated by a minority of Palestinian rioters and hooligans.

On Fridays April 15, April 22, and April 29, Israeli police were forced to enter the compound in order to disrupt riots that included the throwing of rocks, firecrackers, and other projectiles at security forces and toward the rear of the Western Wall, as well as the barricading of rioters within the mosque, preventing proper access to worshipers.

On April 29 (the last Friday of Ramadan that year), the rioting in the morning was so bad that at least one projectile landed in the Western Wall compound below. However, by that afternoon, order was restored and Ramadan prayers were able to end relatively peacefully.

In 2023, violence was instigated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the night of April 4 and early morning of April 5, when rioters barricaded themselves within the mosque and attacked Israeli security forces with explosive devices, fireworks, and rocks.

In order to quell the disturbances, Israeli police were forced to enter the mosque and use riot dispersal methods while arresting those responsible for the violence.

During the melee that unfolded following the entry of Israeli forces into the Muslim holy site, social media chatter erupted with context-free videos of Israeli police using violence against Palestinian agitators — thus inciting violence within the region, and driving a false narrative of Israeli aggression around the world.

Every year, before Ramadan, the Israeli police undertake intensive preparations to “enable the freedom of worship while maintaining security and public order.”

So, too, this year, the Israeli police released guidelines for Ramadan, detailing the traffic changes, regulating of crowds, reinforcement of security forces, and restrictions that are in place (which are similar to past years’ guidelines).

This week begins the holiday of Ramadan. The Israel Police is actively facilitating the freedom of worship on the Temple Mount, while ensuring a balance between security needs and public safety.

— Israel Police (@israelpolice) March 10, 2024

However, despite all the police preparations, there is the possibility this year that some Palestinians will seek to take advantage of the large crowds at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the tense atmosphere due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in order to disrupt prayers and instigate violence against Israeli security forces.

If disturbances do erupt at Al-Aqsa Mosque during this year’s Ramadan, will the media report correctly on how the violence erupted, or will they only start the story with Israel’s response?

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

The post ‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’ first appeared on

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