Consulate: Despite misinformation, Israel working to prevent escalation and violence

Palestinians gather on the Temple Mount, some holding Hamas flags, on May 7, 2021. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.

The Israeli Consulate in Atlanta issued the following about the recent violence in Jerusalem and Southern Israel.

Today, in a dangerous escalation, the terrorist organizations Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired more than a 150 rockets from Gaza into Israel, including numerous rockets targeting one of the world’s holiest cities, Jerusalem, thus endangering both Israeli and Palestinian citizens. Thanks to the Iron Dome Defense System, rockets threatening populations were intercepted.

This period is especially sensitive as Ramadan coincides with Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day, the national holiday celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem). Hamas is intentionally exploiting this period and the sensitive religious and national sentiment, in order to inflame the situation in Jerusalem and strengthen its own position in Judea and Samaria. Israel is committed to ensuring every religion’s freedom of worship in Jerusalem.

This week’s events are part of a wave of terror led by the terrorist organization Hamas, resulting from reckless and irresponsible incitement to commit violence. Senior members of the terrorist organization Hamas have made public calls for violence. In recent days, terrorists in Gaza have launched rockets and incendiary balloons, causing widespread wildfires and severe damage. The head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad published a call to escalate the Intifada, and encourage the public to sustain their violent actions and continue the fight. As of the writing of this letter, terrorists in Gaza fired over 150 rockets toward Israel, several of them exploded inside Gaza, endangering Palestinian civilians.

The heads of the Palestinian Authority have consistently expressed support for the continuing of riots. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, praised the rioters for their steady aggression. The Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, condemned Israel and has threatened severe implications for Israel’s actions against rioters.

Starting in the early hours of Sunday night at the Temple Mount, Palestinian rioters prepared large piles of rocks, stones, steel beams, and firecrackers with the intent of using them against Israeli police forces and Jews in general. Rioters created barricades and shelters to be used during altercations with police. Stones and rocks were transferred in wheelbarrows and scattered in piles across the area. Rioters prepared to use houses of worship, including inside Al Aqsa Mosque, as their bases without considering the holy nature of the location.

Around 8 a.m. IST, rioters inside Al Aqsa began throwing rocks outside Al Aqsa Mosque. Around 8:30 a.m., rioters began attacking the police outpost with stones and fireworks, risking the lives of officers present. Due to imminent danger, Israeli police were forced to disperse the rioters from the area. The violent unrest at the Temple Mount continues to unfold in waves.

Palestinian rioters attacked individuals simply passing near the Temple Mount as well as various locations throughout the city. Israeli police have dispersed rioters throughout the city.

Arab media networks, as well as social media posts from the Temple Mount, are fueling the already heightened emotions by broadcasting live and spreading false information. Qatari and Turkish television networks are the most prominent in the spreading of misinformation. For instance, the press published false information claiming there had been one fatality at the Temple Mount. This false claim was then intensified and shared on social media.

In spite of the violence, Israel Security Forces are not closing the Temple Mount to Ramadan prayers.

Regarding the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the Supreme Court has ordered a stay of the verdict handed down by the lower court in this matter. Subsequently, the eviction of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah will not go forward at this time. This is not a dispute with the State of Israel but a proprietary legal dispute between private actors which has proceeded through all of the judicial stages. In Israel, as in every law-abiding country, property rights and court rulings are respected. Israel rejects the attempt by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to turn this legal matter into a nationalist struggle and cause for the incitement of violence.

Israel has taken every measure possible to maintain calm and prevent escalated tensions and violence. The Supreme Court decided to postpone the hearing of the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, and the Police Commissioner has also decided to restrict the entrance of Jews to the Temple Mount. All of these efforts to relieve tensions have been answered with more violence and acts of terror.

Additionally, the Israeli Police decided to change the course of today’s Jerusalem Day Flag March, preventing the procession from going through the Muslim Quarter and Damascus Gate.

Since the unification of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has gone to great efforts to allow for the freedoms of religion and worship for all faiths in the Holy City for hundreds of millions of people — Jews, Christians, and Muslims — across the world.

What is happening in Jerusalem is not a struggle over the freedom of worship but rather politically motivated violence.

Israel will not allow a group of violent rioters to prevent Jewish worshipers from visiting the Western Wall or hinder anyone’s right to worship freely. Israel maintains freedom of worship in Jerusalem, and will ensure that Muslims, Jews and Christians are able to continue worshiping during the upcoming holidays. Freedom of worship (for all), freedom of expression and right to protest are paramount but must be weighed against public security and safety. Israel will continue to protect Jerusalem’s residents and visitors and will not allow clashes and disruptions in the city.

The responsibility for the violence unfolding in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the rest of Israel falls entirely on the Palestinian Authority, the terrorist organization Hamas, and all other terror groups.

Israel will take any action necessary to protect its citizens, and will not allow the terrorist organizations to attack the civilian population of Israel without a response. It is the right and the duty of every state to protect its citizens, and that is what Israel will do.

The State of Israel appreciates the support and solidarity of its allies during these difficult times.