|The events on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif on July 18/Tisha B'av, including Bennett's problematic statement, are a clear demonstration of the outcome of the ongoing erosion of the status quo.
Before 2019, while Tisha B'av held unique significance for Temple Movement activists, it did not attract much attention from Palestinians who previously did not oppose to Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif on this day.
However, the government’s 2019 decision to allow Jewish entry to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av despite Eid al-Adha drastically changed Palestinian perspective regarding this day of mourning - a day that is now strongly linked to Israeli attempts to change the status quo. Despite the fact that Tisha B'av did not coincide with Eid al-Adha this year, the 2019 decision coupled with the recent events during Ramadan in Damascus Gate, the Old City and Al Aqsa, prompted Palestinians to protest Jewish entry to the holy place this year as a broader demonstration against the erosion of the status quo.
The Israeli police were aware of the potential for protests. As mentioned above, it could have dealt with the situation through coordination with the Waqf as it had done in the past; yet, Israel has since forfeited this more effective course of action due to its unwillingness to recognize the Waqf's authority on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.
The police were then left with two choices: either decide that Jews should not enter the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, or to use force to drive Palestinians out. As usual, the police chose the latter and attacked not only potential protestors but also thousands of Muslim worshippers who came to pray with no intention of protesting.
Heartened by the police’s actions, Temple Movement activists then entered and used the opportunity to pray in stark violation of the status quo. The Israeli media subsequently depicted the events as confrontations between police and Palestinian rioters, which prompted Prime Minister Bennett to issue his provocative statement on freedom of worship for Jews on the Temple Mount.
The fact that Bennett retracted his statement is important, but it cannot hide the fact that as Israeli police condones Jewish prayer at the holy compound, it becomes increasingly more likely that Israeli authorities will move to formalize "freedom of worship" for Jews. This will have far-reaching and negative implications on Muslim rights on the mount. Palestinian mobilization against this threat and subsequent use of force by the Israeli police is a constant source of unrest and instability.