Today is Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. Arabs rioted and clashed with police on the Temple Mount early this morning with Arabs hurling rocks at police and police responding with stun grenades and rubber bullets. Palestinian medics said at least 215 Palestinians were hurt in the violence, including 153 who were hospitalized. Police reported that at least 16 police officers were wounded, including one who was hospitalized. The annual Jerusalem Day march through the Moslem Quarter of the Old City to the Western Wall is scheduled for 4pm Israel time today. Many are calling for the march to be cancelled to avoid provoking further violence.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke by phone with Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Shabbat and expressed “serious concerns” over the situation in Jerusalem and “encouraged the Israeli government to pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm during Jerusalem Day commemorations.” Shabbat responded that international intervention in the matter “rewards the rioters” and those who send them in the hope of pressuring Israel into compliance. He said, “Israel manages the events in Jerusalem from a sovereign position, with responsibility and discretion – despite the provocations.”
Several clashes between Arabs rioters and police were also reported Sunday night in Haifa, where 15 rioters were arrested after attacking officers and trying to break through a police barrier and obstruct traffic.
President Reuven Rivlin addressed the situation in Jerusalem saying, “Today, more than ever, the state respects freedom of worship and will continue to do so, but will not tolerate riots, terrorist activity and support for terrorism. Jerusalem is dear to us all, it is a city of holiness and peace. This is the time to ensure that the sanctity of Jerusalem is honored by all its lovers.”
To watch a disturbing video of Arabs attacking an Israeli car and a police officer coming to the rescue, click here.
Terrorists fired rockets into Israel from Gaza yesterday and this morning. Incendiary balloon attacks caused 40 fires in Israel yesterday. In response, IDF tanks struck Hamas military posts in Gaza. Israel also closed the Erez border crossing, except for humanitarian and extraordinary cases.
The Arab Ra’am party has reportedly agreed to back a unity government lead by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, but will not actually be part of the government. In return, the government will give Ra’am the chairmanship of some prominent Knesset committees and allocation of budgets aimed at tackling issues facing Arab communities including crumbling infrastructure and high rates of poverty and crime.
Negotiations to form the unity government include Bennett serving as Prime Minister for the first 18 months followed by Lapid serving for 18 months. Bennett’s Yamina party only has 7 Knesset seats, and one of those MK’s has said he will not support the unity government. Lapid’s Yesh Atid party has 18 seats, and yet he is willing to let Bennett serve as PM first. That’s because without the support of Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar’s Right-Wing parties, Lapid has no chance of forming a government. The unity government would apparently not include any of the religious parties, who remain staunch Netanyahu supporters.