UPDATES 7 pm Israel time, Wednesday, October 15 2014:
**The Simchat Torah holiday has just begun in Israel. All readers of israelstreet know what that means on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Temple Mount has been closed to all Jews, and remains open to all Muslims.
Why is the Mount closed to Jews? Because the police, as always, announced this morning that the appearance of Jews on the Mount might cause Muslims to riot, and if they riot, the police cannot guarantee the safety of Jews on the Mount.
We have reached the point that it is not merely Muslim riots that preclude Jews from ascending to their holiest place, it is the fear of Muslim riots.
**Concomitant to the closure of the Mount to Jews, Palestinians attacked Israelis in different parts of Jerusalem today.
Three Jerusalem policemen were wounded at a gate in the Old City this morning. Later, in the Issawiya neighborhood, masked Arab rioters attacked more police and Border Guards with “rocks”. Still other rioters attacked the Jerusalem Light Rail yet again.
**You may recall, dear reader, that in the latest conflict with Hamas, the terrorists in Gaza continually called on their fellow terrorists in Hezbollah to attack Israel from the north.
Fortunately, that attack never came because of Hezbollah’s heavy engagement in Syria and Iraq.
Yesterday afternoon, however, a representative from Hamas met Hezbollah officials in Beirut. Undoubtedly, the subject of their discussion was how to coordinate their activities in the next Israel-Hamas conflict which is already on the horizon.
**In that regard, Hamas continues as bellicosely as ever threatening to resume missile attacks on southern Israel.
The warning yesterday came as Hamas declared that the “salaries” of its fighters still have not been paid.
More than this, the military wing of Hamas began an intense recruiting drive in Gaza yesterday to replenish its depleted ranks. Promising a new war soon against Ashkelon, Beersheva, and Nahal Oz, the terrorists staged a victory celebration in Shujaiyyeh.
**The so-called Iranian nuclear “talks” continue to go nowhere. This morning Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told a news conference in Geneva that the U.S. should stop focusing on Iranian centrifuges:
“This is a trivial matter and we should not bargain over trivial matters. This is not going to be useful, this is not going to solve any real problems.”
Instead, Larijani said that the U.S. should turn its attention to including Iran in a coalition against Islamic State.
We return today to the final installment of the remarkable interview that Avi Biton, the Jerusalem Police commander in charge of the Temple Mount gave to a reporter from the Maariv newspaper.
We have already seen how Biton does not distinguish between Muslims throwing Molotov cocktails and Jews attempting to pray, nor does he believe it is the business of the police to enforce the law equally to both sides.
The final segment is just as explosive and damning:
Reporter: Even during the British Mandate period, Jews blew trumpets after Yom Kippur at the Western Wall. Why can’t they do the same thing today, and why can’t they bow and pray on the Mount? How do you feel about stopping them?
Biton: My feelings do not play a role. I do not go to the Mount as an individual but as a police officer representing the government and following orders.
Reporter: Do you realize how bad that sounds?
Biton: Sure, but what does it matter anyway?
Reporter: A few months ago, it was reported on Channel 10 that you sent undercover police onto the Mount to infiltrate and track Jews. Don’t you think this was over-reaching?
Biton: If these groups want to behave in a way to violate the public peace, we will use all means at our disposal to uncover it.
Reporter: [Speaking of violating the public peace], how did you allow Muslims to burn down the police station on the Mount several weeks ago?
Biton: I recommended that night that all police leave the Mount which was a correct decision. At the time there were at least 5000 Muslims on the Mount, and if we had been there there might have been more riots, and eventually we might have had to use live fire to disperse them. Women and children fleeing the fighting might have been killed, and we might have finished the night with dozens killed.
If that had happened, it might have struck a fatal blow in the relationship between Israel and the surrounding countries and the entire world. Jews might have been attacked all over the world, and peace agreements would have been canceled. Dozens of funerals would have been held with numerous disturbances.
In the end, the only thing that happened was that our police station was burned down. The only thing that happened was property damage.
Reporter: It is not just property damage. The Israel police station is an icon, a symbol of Jewish sovereignty on the Mount.
Biton: Yes but after two days, we permitted Jews on the Mount again. If we had fought on the Mount, I do not know if and when Jews would have ever returned . . . Do you think it was worth it or not?
Reporter: Why should there have been the possibility of riots on the Mount in the first place? Why can’t we control in advance who we want or don’t want to come to the Mount? The burning of the police station indicates that we do not control the area.
Biton: There is no doubt about sovereignty on the Mount. Do you think anyone doubts that? When we want, we close it, and when we want to open it, we open it. We fully control what happens on the Mount . . . It is clear to everyone that the game is not a question of sovereignty concerning whether the police are there or not.
Reporter: All kinds of Muslim flags are flown on the Mount: DAAS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syrian, Turkish, Egyptian and more. In contrast, the waving of the Israeli flag at Judaism’s holiest place leads to the immediate arrest of those waving it. Why?
Biton: The Israeli flag is a totally different issue than the other flags . . . This is not a decision of the police, but the government. It has been decided that raising the flag is a behavior that might endanger public peace.
As for the other flags you mention, when there is a procession of 30,000 Muslims on the Mount with Hamas flags, we consider that after ten minutes the flags will be folded and put away.
Reporter: How about the building of a new bridge to the Mughrabi Gate?
Biton: I do not want to get into it. It is political, and I’m not about to go there.
Reporter: Also, how about the fact that many religious Jews who come from great distances to visit the Temple Mount are delayed for hours at the entrance while visitors from the world pass by and ascend?
Biton: “When I flew to Holland and went to visit the Anne Frank House, I waited one hour and 45 hours outside; what can you do? But people are not delayed just because they are Jews, while all the other tourists passing by face and going. It is not about being Jewish or not, but about security and threats . . .
A Jew with religious symbols creates a double threat on the Mount: one posed by the Muslim extremists, on the other hand one posed by Jews themselves.
Your humble servant is nearly at a loss for words.
How is it possible that the senior commander of Jerusalem Police on the Mount can believe that religious Jews are just as much a threat as Muslim extremists?
How is it possible that the senior commander of Jerusalem Police on the Mount can so blithely countenance the fact that his own police station was burned down?
How is it possible that the senior commander of Jerusalem Police on the Mount cannot see that the Muslims on the Mount violate the “public peace” everyday?
How is it possible that the senior commander of Jerusalem Police on the Mount is so terrified of Muslim violence that he clamps restrictions on Jews?
How is it possible that the senior commander of Jerusalem Police on the Mount lives in a delusional world of hypothetical situations and ignores the reality of how out of control the situation on the Mount actually is.
The only good thing about this interview is that we now have the reasons for the egregiously discriminatory treatment of Jews on the Temple Mount straight from the horse’s mouth.
**AGAIN, ISRAELSTREET GRATEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGES THE INCREDIBLE REPORTAGE FROM MAARIV!