Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search
Evénements d'Al-Haram al-Shareef - Rapport d'Israël - Rapport du Secrétaire général/Additif

English (pdf) ||Arabic||Chinese||Français||Русский||Español||

Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS


        Security Council
1 November 1990


1 November 1990




The present addendum contains the summary of the report of the Commission of Investigation received from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations referred to in paragraph 7 of the Secretary-General's report.






1. The Commission expresses its deep sorrow over the loss of life on the Temple Mount, and conveys its sorrow to the families that lost loved ones. The commission also expresses its sorrow over the injuries caused to civilians and police at the Western Wall Plaza and its vicinity and wishes a full recovery to the injured.

2. The Commission recommends that its conclusions be revealed in their entirety to the public and, therefore, has omitted from the report the evidence and the sources of its decisions and conclusions.

3. Despite its being a "commission of investigation" and not a "commission of inquiry," the Commission was authorized by the minister of justice to "receive statements in writing and to warn the witnesses to tell the truth. . . " The Commission also operated according to section 14 of the Inquiry commission Law of 5729 [1968] and has decided that all testimony and material received will not serve as evidence in a legal proceeding, except for a
criminal trial.

4. The Commission heard 124 witnesses, among them: the minister of police, the mayor of Jerusalem, the police commissioner, the head of the GSS, police and Border Patrol commanders, and also police officers and Border Patrol police. The Commission also heard a number of detainees, among them Faisal Husseini and Shiekh Muhammad Said Al-Jamal Al-Rifa'i.

5. The Commission visited Mukased Hospital and heard reports from doctors and the wounded, and also visited the Temple Mount and its vicinity a number of times.

6. The Commission was not requested to draw personal conclusions in the realm of civil, criminal or disciplinary responsibility of any of those involved in the events -- and it is the opinion of the Commission that it has no authority to do so in accordance with the law. The objective of the Commission was to examine that which was demanded of it in its letter of appointment -- it is not the purview of the Commission of Investigation to deal with or to
recommend the drawing of personal conclusions by any one of those involved in the events. The conclusions of the Commission do not make reference to the actions or the malfeasance of a given individual. All resultant decisions and inferences -- if any are made at all -- to the Commission's conclusions with respect to individuals involved in the Temple Mount events of 8 October 1990, will be determined by the competent authorities.

7. The Commission received written material from different sources including "Betzelem," but the witnesses whose statements were attached to the "Betzelem" report refused to appear for questioning before the commission. Appeals by the Commission to the High Muslim Council and the Waqf administration to meet with the Commission were refused.

8. The opinion of a medical expert, submitted to the Commission, regarding seven of the wounded admitted to Mukased Hospital in Jerusalem, determined that not a single one of them was struck from behind.

9. The Commission calls on the National Insurance Institute to clarify, as soon as possible, who among the wounded -- who did not take an active part in the disturbances of public order on the Temple Mount -- is eligible for benefits under the Victims of Hostile Action (Pensions) Law -- 5730 [1970].



It is the opinion of the Commission that a special ministerial committee for Temple Mount affairs be established in cooperation with the Mayor of Jerusalem. This committee should design policy, direct preparations for various situations, decide and supervise the coordination between the parties involved in the security of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. This committee will consult religious leaders as is required by law.


A. The Muslim gathering on the Temple Mount exceeded the intended purpose of the site and the norms which a holy site oblige. The members of the Waqf knew that the High court refused the "Temple Mount Faithful" petition to lay the cornerstone of the Third Temple, and did not respond to requests by Israel Police officers on the morning of the incident to calm the crowd. This, even after the fact that the police informed the Waqf that they would also prevent the "Temple Mount Faithful," and anyone else, from visiting the area, though such visits are allowed by law.

B. The incident itself began when, suddenly, violent and threatening calls were sounded on the speakers ("Allah Akbar," "Jihad," "Itbakh Al-Yahud" [Slaughter the Jews]). Immediately afterwards, enormous amounts of rocks, construction materials and metal objects were thrown at Israeli policemen who were present at the site. Many in the incited, rioting mob threw stones and metal objects from a very short range, and some even wielded knives in their hands. The actions of the rioters, and certainly the incitors, constituted a threat to the lives of the police, the thousands of worshipers at the Western Wall and to themselves. This was a serious criminal offense committed by masses who were incited by preachers on loudspeakers, and this is what led to the tragic chain of events.

C. It is the opinion of the Commission that any criminal acts that may have been carried out during the course of the events should continue to be investigated. It is the opinion of the Commission that there is room for suspicion that a considerable percentage of the people gathered at the Temple Mount and their leaders apparently were involved in the obstruction of public order, causing harm to police and worshipers and endangering their lives.


A. The Commission has reached the conclusion that the lives of the police on the Temple Mount were endangered, and that they feared for their lives, and for the lives of thousands of worshipers who were at the Western Wall.

The firing of tear gas and rubber bullets by the police, which came following the massive barrage of stones and other objects, was intended to deter the rioters and to repel them from the vicinity of the Western Wall. In light of the injuries which they sustained, the police were forced to retreat from the Temple Mount through Mughrabi Gate, and the barrage continued over the Western Wall, the Mughrabi Gate and the Ophel Road.

B. The breaking into the Temple Mount came as a result of the continuation of the rioting and the barrage of stones, and of the fear for the lives of two police officers who remained caught in the Temple Mount police station. There was also a concern that the weapons and ammunition in the station would fall into the hands of the rioters. Since communications were cut off, the police commanders did not know that the policemen trapped in the station succeeded to escape on their own.

C. The breaking [into the Temple Mount] was done while using teargas grenades and live ammunition as the masses rained rocks and other materials on the police, which endangered their lives. The continuation of the storming of the police, which also was done by masked assailants, required the police to attack with live ammunition. When the masses entered the mosques, the order was given to "cease fire."

D. Regarding the above, the Commission is of the opinion that following the breaking into the Mughrabi Gate, which was necessary to save the lives of the trapped officers and to prevent ammunition from falling into the hands of the rioters, the storming masses continued to attack the police with rocks and other dangerous instruments. The police used gas and rubber bullets and, in life-threatening instances, also used live ammunition at their attackers.

E. The Commission recommends that a separate, detailed investigation by an independent police officer, appointed by the commander of the Border Police, be conducted into the initiative taken by one of the Border Police platoon commanders at the Lions' Gate without having received a specific order. The conclusions of the investigation will be submitted to the minister of police and the police commissioner.

F. An ambulance was hit by gunfire in its windshield and side, with a nurse and the driver sustaining injuries. It was clarified to the commission that the police did not see the ambulance, which stood between the pillars of the entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque. The recommendation to the National Insurance Institute given in Chapter 1 refers to these injuries.

G. There were no gas grenades or any other items thrown from the helicopter that flew over the Temple Mount, nor were any shots fired from it at the crowd.


The Commission criticizes the functioning of the senior command level of the police:

A. The police had advance information on the possibility of rioting. The method of thinking and attitudes of the commander of the southern district and of the commander of the Jerusalem area were routine and even mistaken. There was no consideration of the special sensitivity of the Temple Mount and there was no advance preparation for a wide variety of possible situations. The supervision concerned itself with one element only, "the laying of
a cornerstone for-the Third Temple," and, when that was cancelled, they took routine measures.

B. Area and district commanders did not take into account the accumulated influence of the intifada, the environment created by terrorist elements and their attitude towards the Gulf crisis, and calls for incitement by the muezin and the preachers on the Temple Mount on the Friday before the events. These phenomena required the presence of initiative and suspicion that did not exist in this case. The police, further, did not have files on preparations for possible contingencies and, therefore, they were not tested.

C. In the opinion of the Commission, the situation that was created on the Temple Mount required the presence of commanders, of the most senior levels, on the Temple Mount. The situation also required the presence of area and district commanders and, as the situation intensified, there was room for the summoning of the commissioner. The activating of an emergency situation for the security of the Temple Mount, the setting up of a forward command,
post, the concentration of forces and the establishment of positions, could have deterred the frenzied masses from rioting. Following other events, the command posts were not staffed by
senior commanders, the communications between different points on The Mount did not function properly and neither the commissioner nor the minister police were briefed early on regarding
developments in the situation.

D. There are no sharp or uniform definitions regarding responsibility for command on the Mount. The commission is of the opinion that the uniformity of command must be kept and that all the forces working in the Old City must report to the old City command.

E. The Commander of the Border Police company that worked independently in the area felt it necessary to spread out the Border Police force above the Western wall -- this step was in accordance with the orders that he received.

F. In the opinion of the Commission:

1) An elite force must be permanently allotted to the Temple Mount and its vicinity to work under uniform supervision with defined jurisdictions and responsibilities.

2) A headquarters for incidents on the Temple Mount should be established that will report on events on the Mount and will be present at the time of the event.

3) Contingency plans must be prepared that will deal with possible situations and will formulate operative frameworks for dealing with any situation.

4) Reinforcements should be placed in close and immediate proximity and would be assigned to bolster the force during incidents.

5) The Commission recommends that the commander of the Old City police will be responsible for the preparation of forces and their testing, in order to ensure that they are prepared for action.

G. Criticism of the way in which the district functioned does not diminish the courage of the district commander, his officers and policemen in the course of subduing the rioters.


A. Difficulties exist in the gathering of, information, its analysis, in issuing warning and in assisting in preventing disruptions of public order. The Commission is of the opinion that the division of labor between the GSS and the police is basically correct and should not be changed.

B. The GSS has assumed upon itself the gathering of information on the organization of disruptions of order and the police has taken upon itself the gathering of information in the street, in connection to developments that are characterized as spontaneous.

C. Concerning the incident on the Temple Mount, there was no lack of advance information: general warnings by the GSS, and, above all, there was clear information -- the calls of the preachers, leaflets and the multiplicity of groups of masked assailants that called for gathering on' the Temple Mount.

D. The mistake of the commissioner, the commander of the southern district and the Jerusalem area commander was in the evaluation of the information and in focussing on the assumption that, if the "laying of the cornerstone" could be prevented, everything would settle down peacefully -- as in the past.

A correct reading of the situation, given the change in circumstances and conditions, would have rendered possible the preventive- deployment and preventative action that were demanded and necessary. Given this mistake, the police did not deploy its forces up as it should have been and a deterrent force was not concentrated to intervene as is acceptable. This basic evaluation did not change, even when there was precise information on the number of people on the Temple Mount.

E. The GSS evaluations were different than those of the police. The GSS made it clear that an unexpected catalyst would be liable to cause an explosion during a gathering under the circumstances which existed on the Temple Mount. The commission did not find basis for the existence of written warning by the GSS to the police with the same clarity as was presented by the GSS before the commission.

F. 1. The division of labor must be maintained between intelligence missions, and any intelligence regarding the Temple Mount must be distributed to the police minister and the ministerial committee which will be established. This committee will discuss intelligence preparations, if any exist.

2. The police must be allocated the tools and means to establish a "street intelligence" gathering network and to establish units which will operate within police framework and as part of area headquarters.


A. 10 October 1990 was replete with events and the police allocated forces and commanders to all. The commission proposes that events on the Temple Mount be viewed over a number of days.

B. "The Temple Mount Faithful" -- The actions of this small group deviated from the accepted according to law, but the matter cannot solely be dealt with from a legal and formal aspect. Muslims view this group as a provocative and threatening element which intends to drive them off of the Temple Mount. The Muslim leadership took advantage of the presence of this group in order to incite those gathered on the Temple Mount. The police should have been alert to this and should have approved escort for the group on another day. The police saw itself bound by the High Court decision, but, nevertheless, verification carried out by the commission reveals that there was no such obligation and it was possible to transfer the event to another day.

In the Commission's opinion, the police should consider limiting events on the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and in the Old City plaza which have a high probability of resulting in severe disturbances.

C. The prohibition of gatherings on the Temple Mount which are liable to result in disturbances -- Those who gathered on the Temple Mount offended the sanctity of the site and they apparently violated the law. From the start, they were called to a protest prohibited on the Temple Mount, the security of which lies with the State of Israel.

In the Commission's opinion the police had the authority to close the Temple Mount gates and to prevent entry and gathering whose intent was unrest.

The police also could have prevented the entry of suspicious elements -- a step which has proved itself in the past.

During the events, the police could also have taken measures which could have prevented a deterioration -- such as disconnecting the loudspeaker system which incited the mob. These steps were not taken, mainly because of the assumption that order would return if the "Temple Mount Faithful" were not allowed to enter the Mount. The police tried unsuccessfully to shoot down the loudspeaker. In the Commission's opinion, this technical problem could have been solved in the past and all must be done prevent future use of the loudspeaker for incitement.

Had the police acted in such a manner, criticism would likely have been limited to the Muslim public and other hostile elements.

Nevertheless, it is preferable to contend with such criticism than to reach the sad results of events on the Temple Mount, despite the fact that the blame and responsibility lies with the thousands of rioters who took advantage of the site in order to carry out disturbances.


The national interest of the State of Israel and the special situation in the Old City require re-evaluation of what can or cannot be permitted in respect to gatherings and demonstrations which may lead to disturbances.

The Commission recommends preventing gatherings for the purpose of demonstrations on the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and throughout the Old City. The freedom of worship of all religions in their holy places should be preserved. only official State events may be permitted in the vicinity of the Western Wall.


The use of live ammunition on the Temple Mount under the prevailing conditions was justified by the Commission. It is also clear that it is the policy of the police to use live ammunition only as a last resort, and only if lives are endangered. It is necessary to develop technological means whose efficiency would be greater than that of the use of gas and rubber bullets. The Commission emphasizes the immediate need to develop alternatives to the use of live ammunition. The Commission recommends the immediate establishment of a techno-defense crew that will evaluate possibilities for solving the problem of protecting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. The ministerial committee will summarize and decide as soon as possible.


The minister of police carries ministerial responsibility for the actions of the police. The Commission is aware of the existing law, and of the special position and responsibilities of the police commissioner. It is accepted that there is no room for interference by the minister of police in the process of a criminal investigation, but on the matter of the preservation of order, the active involvement of the minister is necessary to maintain his ministerial responsibility. The current structure of the police ministry lacks the means to do so; therefore, it is urgently required to develop these means.

It is the opinion of the Commission that there is a need to develop special staff operations which will serve the minister, enabling him to formulate policy, examine alternatives, and maintain supervision.

The minister of police must be involved in the matter of maintaining public order, while paying special attention to the Old City and the holy sites.



The Legal Situation

The Temple Mount falls under the sovereignty of the State of Israel and, therefore, it is subject to all the laws of the State. Following the Six-Day War, Israeli sovereignty was extended to the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City, in which the Temple Mount is situated. The extension of sovereignty was entailed in a Knesset law -- the Amendment of the Law and Administrative ordinance (5748/1948). Furthermore, in the Protection of the Holy Places Law (5767/1967), the freedom of access to the holy places of all religions is guaranteed. Paragraph 1 of this law, because of its importance, also appears in the Basic Law: Jerusalem-Capital of Israel, that was passed in 1980.

The Jews and the Temple Mount

The Temple Mount has been considered holy by Israel since the time of David. Even when the people had been uprooted from the land, its interest in-the holy site was maintained. After the Jordanian conquest, in 1948, the Jordanian government did not -allow free access to the site for Jews, even though that had been ensured in the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan in 1949. Observant Jews are prohibited from entering the Temple Mount, according to the command of the sages of Israel and of the Chief Rabbis, and their prayers are held at the Western Wall. Nonobservant Jews enter the Temple Mount as visitors only. Freedom of access to the Temple Mount is anchored in the laws of the State and in the judgments of the High Court of Justice.

The Muslims and the Temple Mount

Since the Arab conquest of Jerusalem in 638, the Temple Mount has been a Muslim religious center. The High Court of Justice recognized the Temple Mount as a holy place for Muslims and it functions as a center of Muslim prayer. Given the exceptional sensitivity surrounding this holy place, former Prime Minister of Israel Levi Eshkol said, as early as 27 June 1967, to the heads of all religions that ". . . the holy places in Jerusalem are open to all religions. Everyone is welcome to visit and pray at the holy places, according to his religion and without discrimination. . . "

In accordance with this principle, the internal administration of matters relating to the Temple Mount, including the mosques thereon, has been given to the authority of the Muslim Waqf.

The Responsibility for the Security of the Temple Mount The responsibility for the security of the Temple Mount has been placed on the civilian authorities, whether during the days of the
British Mandate or during the time of Jordanian rule. That is to say, the maintenance of public order is a state matter. The government of Israel, which holds sovereign jurisdiction over the Temple Mount, is, therefore, responsible for security on the site. Even Waqf authorities have not seen themselves as responsible for security matters.

In the report by an Arab "commission of investigation" -- signed by Anwar al-Khatib, Anwar Nuseibeh and Balid Alla al-Adin -- which was published following the fire at Al-Aqsa mosque in 1989, it was stated, inter alia, that " . . . the occupation authorities, being
as they are, cannot escape their security responsibilities. The guardians of the. Muslim shrines have no security jurisdiction or function. . ."

The Application of Criminal Law at the Holy Places

The High Court of Justice (HCJ 267/68) determined that criminal law, in its entirety, applies to the "holy places," but the state authorities have acted with caution in all matters concerning the enforcement of the law on the Temple Mount, owing to the sensitivity of the place and to a desire to prevent any outbursts of a religious nature.

Freedom of Religion -- the Adjucative Angle

Freedom of religion for Jews on the Temple Mount, as opposed to freedom of access, has been dealt with in many judgements of the High Court of Justice. In these judgements, criticism has been directed at the police decision to refuse permission to Jews who wish to pray on the Temple Mount. The majority of the appeals have been rejected by the Court, and, in most cases, an opinion has been expressed that the Temple Mount matter must be approached with great sensitivity, preferable to ". . . the hard-line and non-flexible approach of the law. . ." (see HCJ 222/86).



At the beginning of 1990, an operational plan was formulated which dealt with police preparations in the Jerusalem area, and which was termed "First Thought." The main points of the plan determined that responsibility for the above area would be held by the Border Patrol headquarters, Jerusalem, which would be subordinate to the Jerusalem area (police) command and that the new headquarters would be granted the possibility and authority to operated on independent initiative.

The Border Patrol's "C" company was given responsibility for the area within the walls of the Old City (district D). It was clearly stated that disturbances and incitement were possible on the Temple Mount within this district. [Police) preparations brought into account the need to reinforce and increase forces under special circumstances. The "priestly benediction" (Birkat Hacohanim) and activities of the "Temple Mount Faithful" were cited among such circumstances.


Jerusalem Area [Police department] -- In July 1983, the Jerusalem area published security orders and regulations regarding the Temple Mount. The orders include a description of the role attributed the commander of the Temple Mount [police] and standing orders to its policemen. In addition, the orders establish regulations regarding the activation of the Border Patrol force stationed on alert at the Mahkameh point, for reinforcement during incidents at the Temple Mount.

On 1.8.90, the Temple Mount unit was made subordinate to the police station in the Old City.

On 17.7.84, national [police] headquarters published "framework orders" -- security and regulations on the Temple Mount. No detailed order given by the Southern district or the Jerusalem area was brought to the Commissions' attention, and the order given in July 1983 will be updated.

Border Patrol -- In June 1989, a security order was issued to the Border Patrol's "C" company. The order established that responsibility for maintaining order and security on the Temple Mount, as well as the safeguarding of approach roads for visitors and the prevention of disturbances on the Temple Mount, lay with the Border Patrol unit.


National Headquarters -- On 21.8.90, the operations division of the national headquarters issued "Operational Orders -- Holidays 1990,11 intended to ensure public order and especially to ensure -intelligence the safety of worshipers at various sites. The evaluation submitted with the orders determined that Jewish holidays constitute preferred dates for attacks, and stated clearly the sensitivity in East Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount as well as the probability of attack.

Southern District Headquarters -- On 29.8.90, headquarters issued operational orders -- "Southern district preparations for the New Year and Sukkot holidays 1990." The operational orders do not relate specifically to the Temple Mount and Western Wall area, apart from reference to the priestly benediction as a central event.

Jerusalem Area Headquarters -- In August 1990, headquarters issued Jerusalem headquarters preparation orders for the 1990 holidays. The orders emphasized vacation sites, but neither the Temple Mount nor the Western Wall were cited as special targets at which security had to be increased.

A number of appendixes were added to the orders. Appendix 9 dealt with the Old City police station, Appendix 13 with events due to take place over the holidays; citing the priestly benediction and "Temple Mount Faithful" events; Appendix 21 included orders regarding the priestly benediction events and imposed operational responsibility on the Border Patrol, Jerusalem; Appendix 22 related to the "Temple Mount Faithful" and detailed the events which they would be allowed to carry out in order to prevent "disturbances of the peace in the area."

Jerusalem District Border Patrol -- on 16.9.90, preparation orders for the 1990 holidays were issued. It was clearly stated that the company would increase its forces at the Western Wall and prepare reinforcements above the Western Wall. In Appendix 6 to the order, it was stated, inter alia, that a special force, to be stationed on the Temple Mount above the Western Wall, would be added on the eve of the Sukkot holiday and on the day of the priestly benediction.


Discussions at the Police and Security Service Level:

On 24.8.90, information regarding a possible conflagration concerning the Temple Mount was brought to the attention of the relevant police officials. At the end of September, the security situation expected over the holidays was discussed with the head of police intelligence within a forum which was convened by-the committee for the security of Jerusalem, and with the inspector-general at a working meeting between the Jerusalem area commander and with the [person] responsible for the city's security.

The Prime Minister's statements -- on 30.9.90, at the end of the cabinet meeting in which the police minister-and inspector-general briefed on the issue, the Prime Minister concluded: ". . . Security in Jerusalem is of the utmost importance and the police, at the time, received special orders to ensure that Jerusalem's security would not be violated. . . we are witness to too many disturbances and attacks in Jerusalem. This situation must be halted."


On 1.10.90, the appeal directing the police to allow the Temple cornerstone laying ceremony to be carried out adjacent to the Dung Gate and the building of a sukkah next to the Mughrabi Gate was discussed. A declaration made by an officer from the Jerusalem area operations division was attached to the notice of objection to the petition, filed on behalf of the State Attorney, which stated that the police had intelligence information about expected disturbances on the Temple Mount as a result of the appellants' intentions, and that building a sukkah adjacent to the Mughrabi Gate would result in stone-throwing, which could unintentionally harm worshipers at the Western Wall Plaza.

The appeal was rejected and this was given widespread coverage in Arabic newspapers published in East Jerusalem. In addition to this coverage, conclusions of the discussion were submitted on 3.10.90 to the Waqf administration and to the Al-Aqsa mosque administration.


Calls during Friday prayers:
Despite coverage and the announcements communicated to the Waqf administration, the muezin, after Friday prayers (5.10.90), called on youths to arrive at the Temple Mount on Monday (8.10.90) in order to bodily prevent Jews from laying the cornerstone on the Temple Mount. Following the muezin's appeal, speeches were made, repeating the appeals.

Intelligence sources and a Hamas leaflet informed of expected disturbances on 5,6,7-11.10.90. On 7.10, masked assailants called on the residents of Abu Tor to arrive the following day at the Temple Mount in response to the intentions of Jews to arrive at the site.


On 5.10.90 a discussion regarding security preparations in Jerusalem was held in the police minister's office. On 7.10, the minister briefed the cabinet. On the morning of the day of the events, the afternoon newspapers published reports about the reinforcement of forces and new preparations in Jerusalem resulting from the Muslim religious leaders' calls.

This chapter describes a accurately as possible the chain of events on the Temple Mount. The description is based on testimony (gathered under sworn statement, and under warning) from security personnel who were present on the Temple Mount at the time of the events. The testimony was investigated and verified through various means -- whether by video, written declarations or additional information gathered by the security services and the public. Some of the detainees were also investigated, as well as those injured. All facts and times were cross-checked.

At 03:30, chain of events begin when Muslim worshipers entered the Temple Mount for dawn prayers, and ended at 13:30. In this summary, we will make mention of only a number of main events.

At 08:30, when a few hundred youths already were present on the Temple Mount, a "calming discussion" was held between the commander of police on the Temple Mount and Waqf dignitaries. The police commander announced that no one would enter the Temple Mount on that day. It was emphasized at the "Temple Mount Faithful" would not be allowed to enter the Temple Mount either.

At 08:40, a gathering of about 2,000 people was reported and a warning about disturbances was given. A Border Patrol officer requested response.

At 09:00, a reinforcement force of Border Patrol was deployed above the Western Wall.

Between 09:15 and 09:30, Waqf dignitaries were requested to calm the atmosphere.

Between 09:40 and 09:50, the "priestly benediction" was held at the Western Wall, with the participation of between 20,000 and 30,000 people. At the conclusion of the prayers, they began leaving the site.

At 09:50, approximately 20 members of the "Temple Mount Faithful', arrived at the Western Wall Plaza.

At 10:00 they departed, accompanied by police, for the Pool of Shiloah. At this time, sermons and speeches began to be heard on the Temple Mount, which included incitement against Jews. Waqf members were warned that wild incitement could lead to disturbances and were requested to calm the atmosphere. At this time, youths began gathering stones from buildings being renovated on the Temple Mount. At 10:45, approximately 2,000-3,000 people stormed toward 44 Border Patrol policemen who were standing above the Western Wall.

Stones and pieces of iron were thrown at them and in the direction of the Western Wall. An order was given to shoot tear gas and rubber bullets, but the storming was not halted. Border Patrol policemen, some of whom were 'injured, retreated to beyond the Mughrabi Gate and toward the Mahkameh. The evacuation of worshipers from the Western Wall Plaza was begun immediately.

At 10:55, hundreds of youths charged the police station on the Temple Mount, in which two policemen who were shouting for help were trapped. Contact with them was broken and the two policemen, who managed to escape, did not succeed in relaying word of their escape. Weapons and ammunition were left in the police station. While worshipers and Border Patrol policemen were being evacuated, no live fire was directed at the rioters.

At 11:05, policemen began breaking through to the Temple Mount via the Mughrabi Gate. The policemen met a barrage of stones and iron and gas canisters which they shot were thrown back at them. The incited mob prevented the policemen from progressing toward the police-point. Masked-assailants stormed the policemen and, since they were not halted by rubber bullets, live ammunition was fired, first in the air, and subsequently toward the rioters.

At about 11:00, the first ambulances arrived at the Temple Mount and parked at the entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque, in an area in which tear gas and rubber bullets and subsequently live ammunition were being shot. As a result of the shooting, the ambulance driver and the accompanying nurse were injured.

At 11:15, a patrol helicopter was called in to the Temple Mount area. Throughout the incident no shooting took place from the helicopter, and it served for follow-up and reconnaisance purposes only.

At 11:25, after the rioters retreated into the mosques, the "cease fire" order was given.

At 11:30, disturbances began in the vicinity of Lions' Gate. Youths attacked policemen with stones and, because rubber bullets and gas were not effective, the policemen were compelled to use live ammunition. Border Patrol policemen arrived in vicinity of the Lions' Gate after hearing on two-way radios that severe riots and disturbances were taking place there.

Between 12:50 and 13:00, a team of Border Patrol policemen were attacked by youths and masked assailants near Mukased Hospital. During the chase, a gas canister was released, and entered the hospital. The patrol commander apologized for this regrettable incident.

There were many injuries in this severe incident. 19 policemen were injured as well as 9 Western Wall worshipers. According to Israel Police statistics, 20 people were killed and 53 injured on the Temple Mount. Due to a lack of written record, those who arrived at hospitals and were released the same day were not included in the number of wounded. The casualties and wounded were killed and injured while being present on the Temple Mount. No one was wounded while being present in mosques or buildings on the Temple Mount compound.


Intelligence -- Difficulties in the gathering of information create a division [of labor] whereby the GSS gathers information regarding disturbances which are organized in advance, and spontaneous disturbances are dealt with by the police. Information concerning street gatherings which are conveyed quickly to the police facilitate police response. The Commission is convinced that the present division of roles between the GSS and the police is correct and should not be changed.

Temple Mount Intelligence -- The information on which the Jerusalem district based its evaluations regarding possible events on the Mount on 8.10.90, are partly covert and partly overt: Muezin calls, leaflets, information about masked assailants who were in the neighborhood and covert information regarding concern over a confrontation with the "Temple Mount Faithful."

Based on this information, the police estimated that if it were to notify the Waqf administration of the High court decision stating that there was no need to intervene in the police decision to prevent the "Temple Mount Faithful" from carrying out their plans -- passions would calm down. This was done, and the Jerusalem area police estimated that its steps calmed passions and, therefore, did not deploy its regular contingent for events on, the Temple Mount which are liable to result in disruptions of order. The GSS evaluation relayed to the Commission on 16.10.90 differed. According to this evaluation, an unexpected accelerating factor in [an emotionally] charged crowd is sufficient to cause a confrontation with the police. No basis was found for this evaluation in material distributed by the GSS before 8.10.90.

Police Preparations for Operations on the Temple Mount A Border Patrol regiment is subordinate to the Jerusalem area. " company, part of this regiment, is stationed in the Old City. A standby unit is also stationed a the Mahkameh. The Border Patrol company coordinates its operations with other police forces. The recently established old City headquarters holds regional responsibility for all areas in the Old City.

On days given to disturbances, the Jerusalem area takes command of all forces and establishes a forward command post. When a forward command post is established, no questions arise as to command of the forces. Ordinarily, the question of authority over the Border Patrol company in the Old City arises.

The division of command over policemen on the Temple Mount, between commander of the Old City and the Border Patrol commander, resulted in faults in the containment of the unrest. "C" company operated under the complete authority of the Border Police commander until the arrival of the Jerusalem area commander, who subsequently took command of all forces. The deployment of forces on the Temple Mount on 8.10.90 was based on preparation orders of the Jerusalem area, Southern district, which were issued to Border Patrol headquarters. Border Patrol headquarters also issued an order pertaining to its company and which defined its missions.

Headquarters Alert -- The special sensitivity of the site, and information available to the commanders, should have caused them to arrive at the site. The commanders were occupied with other events, but, in light of information available to them, they should have altered their priorities. The Commission has investigated and found that the commander of "C" company took the necessary decisions, based on preliminary orders issued him and an assessment of the field situation. Different preparations would have subjected the 20,000 worshipers to severe danger.

Conclusions -- Police Deployment on the Temple Mount -- Thousands of worshipers concentrate on the Temple Mount and in the Western Wall Plaza on religious holidays. The mounting extremism among minority groups of Jews and Muslims obligates the adoption of appropriate security measures. The gathering of hundreds of Muslims within the Temple Mount boundaries constitutes a threat to worshipers at the Western Wall. Their storming above the Wall, even when this area is manned by policemen, does not prevent stoning in the direction of the Plaza. Their containment, in such a case I can be achieved only by the shooting of tear gas, rubber bullets and when no choice remains -- live ammunition.

It is in the Commission's opinion that an appropriate security apparatus must be based, first and foremost, upon control and supervision of entry into the Temple Mount.

Actions Taken by the Forces -- Stage 1: The storming of more than 2,000 Muslims toward Border Patrol policemen, some of whom were wounded, who were compelled to use tear gas, shoot rubber bullets and retreat in alarm. At this stage, live fire was shot by only two commanders. At the same time, Border Patrol policemen warned worshipers at the Western Wall to begin evacuation of the Plaza.

Stage 2: The area commander arrived at the Mughrabi Gate and took command. The duty officer at the Temple Mount police station calls for help, the station is attacked. The police force prepares to charge and the area commander allows the use of live ammunition, in accordance with police orders.

The charging police forces gathered in an improvised manner. During the charge there was an unsupervised use of live ammunition. The rescue of the two policemen trapped inside the Temple Mount police station justified a quick operation and the use of all means on other fronts, only those police men whose lives were in danger were justified in using live ammunition. Gaining control of the line between the police station and Al-Aqsa mosque was essential, but it is doubtful whether clearing the area from there in the direction of the Lions' Gate was crucial under conditions which prevailed on the Mount.

Difficulties in Activation of the Forces -- The Jerusalem area headquarters and Border Patrol headquarters had no advance plans for gaining control of the Temple Mount area. It was not forecasted that during routine days, a mob would gain control of the Temple Mount area or that police forces would have to regain control of the area. These facts influenced the operation of the forces. Deployment of the Border Patrol forces above the Wall came as a surprise to the area commander and the area operations officer. It would have been preferable to ensure that the Gate of the Chain remain open through advance planning and early orders.

The many events that took place in the Jerusalem area resulted in the fact that the area commander and officers of his staff were not present at headquarters, and this severely impeded its operation. The absence of a commander is justified as long as headquarters serve as a center of control over forces in the field.

Important information was relayed to the headquarters during the day. Had there been an authoritative duty officer present, the situation would have been different. Such circumstances would have facilitated a re-evaluation of forces, a suitable deterrent force would have prevented the mob from attacking the Border Patrol policemen who were stationed above the Western Wall, and such extensive use of live fire would have been prevented.

There has to be an immediate implementation of the lessons of 8.10.90; faults have to be rectified; and, the functioning of (forces] in the Temple Mount area in times of emergency, as well as under regular conditions, has to be re-evaluated.

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter