The tragic death of Alexander Levlovich has galvanized public awareness of the Palestinian violence in and around Jerusalem. However, an urban intifada has been under way on and off in the capital since the summer of 2014, when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge – and its epicenter is the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is seen by Muslims as an important spiritual center for prayer and political agitation.
Palestinian national identity is intimately tied to the plateau they call the Noble Sanctuary or Haram al-Sharif.
Any Palestinian crisis – like the military offensive carried out in Gaza in the summer of 2014 following the kidnapping and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah – reverberates on the Mount.
A number of factors have come together to bring about a spike in violence on the Temple Mount in recent days. Last Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon banned the Murabitun and Murabatat – male and female Islamist activist groups whose members regularly harass Jewish visitors to the Mount.
In addition, the celebration of the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh Hashana has brought larger numbers of Jews to the Temple Mount for visits. A rise in the number of Jewish visitors triggers misguided suspicions among Palestinians that Israel is attempting to forcibly take control of swathes of the Mount.
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