Hours before Israel sits down to celebrate Rosh Hashana, hundreds of Muslim worshippers began throwing rocks at police officers and Jewish visitors at Jerusalem's Temple Mount on Wednesday morning. A large police force was summoned to the scene to calm the situation, and no injuries or damage were reported.
The officers managed to subdue the rioters, some of whom were wearing face masks. Many fled into nearby mosques when the police arrived. A large police presence remained on site, and entry to the Temple Mount was not restricted.
Police sources said that they were not surprised by the violence and that police had advance knowledge of plans to riot on the Temple Mount. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said he planned to closely monitor the deployment of police units in the area over the course of the holiday.
The rock-throwing incident occurred one day after the head the northern chapter of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, was arrested on his way to a press conference in east Jerusalem. Police suspect that Salah meant to incite his followers to instigate violent clashes on the Temple Mount during the Jewish holiday.
The Muslim cleric was reportedly traveling to a press conference called "Toward the Spring of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa" in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of east Jerusalem when police arrested him, a spokesman for the Islamic Movement, attorney Zaahi Nejidat, told Al-Jazeera.
Police brought Salah to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem for questioning.
Salah's arrest was apparently in response to a speech the sheikh gave at Kafr Qara near Haifa. The outspoken cleric had accused Israel of being behind the recent political crisis in Egypt and throughout the Arab world. He also said the Jerusalem police force planned to torch the Temple Mount during the High Holy Days.
That last comment may have been in response to a police announcement that Jews would be allowed to enter the Temple Mount, managed by the Islamic Waqf, over Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
A Jerusalem court on Tuesday filed a restraining order against Salah, ordering him to stay more than 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Jerusalem. Salah refused, and was kept in custody overnight, but was released early Wedensday after accepting the terms of the order.
Salah has been arrested before. In 2011, police arrested him for apparently assaulting officers near the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Israel and Jordan. In 2009, he was arrested for making inflammatory remarks and apparent incitement during clashes between police and Palestinian activists in Wadi al-Joz in Jerusalem.