Clashes at Al-Aqsa exacerbate crisis on Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif

March 12, 2019
Clashes this afternoon on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif have significantly ratcheted up tensions following weeks of unresolved conflict over the Bab Al-Rahme site, further straining conditions for a compromise and threatening to amplify frictions between the Israeli and Jordanian governments.
As documented by Ir Amim field monitors, Israeli security authorities have closed the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and removed all Waqf officials and guards following clashes that erupted after an incendiary device was thrown onto the police station adjacent to the Dome of the Rock. Ten Palestinians were injured during the clashes and five arrested. All worshippers were forced out of the site.
This is the first time in the last several weeks during the standoff over Bab Al-Rahme that tensions have bled into the Al-Aqsa mosque.The decision to remove all Waqf officials and employees can be interpreted as a direct challenge to the Waqf’s authority there.
Pursuant to actions at Al-Aqsa, Police closed Herod's, Lion’s and Bab Al-Amoud Gates, significantly limiting access to the Old City. Additional clashes broke out at the Lion's Gate, where Police prevented a funeral procession from entering Al-Aqsa.
In response to the Police decision to close and remove all worshippers from the compound, the Islamic and national parties have called on Palestinians to gather for mass prayer in front of the Lion's Gate.Large-scale demonstrations are now taking place, with hundreds of worshippers in front of Lions Gate and dozens in front of the doors to Al-Aqsa and on Salah al-Din Street.
Emptying Al-Aqsa, closing its doors and limiting access to three major entry points to the Old City communicates a clear message of unilateral Israeli control. Any unilateral actions deemed to undermine the status quo is extremely likely to ramp up tensions even further.
It is imperative that all steps be taken to avoid any further actions liable to exacerbate the current situation, including any unnecessarily long or unwarranted closures of Al-Aqsa.

Ir Amim reissues the following recommendations to decelerate tensions and negotiate a compromise on the Bab al-Rahme crisis leading to today’s events:


  1. The Israeli government must immediately resume active coordination with the Jordanian Waqf – with respect to their established roles – to reach an agreed solution to the current crisis.  
  2. The Israeli government must avoid an escalation of the crisis by not taking actions to renew the closure of Bab al-Rahma.
  3. The Israeli government must take all steps to ensure maintenance of the status quo, including – as maintained by the prime minister himself – recognition of the principle that Jews are visitors to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif who do not have worship rights there.
  4. Prime Minister Netanyahu must curb the actions of his coalition members, prohibiting statements or actions that encourage provocations by the Temple movements and further aggravate the crisis.
  5. The Israel Police must adhere to the status quo, particularly in light of increasingly bold violations by Temple Movement activists and their supporters.
  6. Maintenance of the moratorium on collective restrictions, which have decisively proven to elevate tensions in the past, particularly during violent clashes in 2014 and 2015.