Two Israeli border policemen were murdered by gunfire from three Arab Muslims in Jerusalem last Friday while they were guarding the Temple Mount . The two policemen were Druse. Their fellow soldiers followed the terrorists into the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount and killed them. This was clearly intended to be a provocation so that the Muslim community would react angrily to the killings in the Mosque and would attack the Temple Mount (that they call Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary).
Although there was some continuing violence, such a major confrontation did not take place. The Israeli authorities at first closed the Mosque and then searched it for weapons that have been smuggled in there (note that Muslims believe it is appropriate to store weapons in and attack from Mosques since they see Mosques as centers of Islamic power for example in the Islamic State and in Gaza; this is quite different from the Judeo-Christian view of places of worship).
After they had cleansed the Mosque the Border police erected metal detectors in front of the entrance to the Mosques on the Temple Mount to check all Muslim worshipers entering. This brought a strong denunciation from PA President Abbas (he did not protest the shooting of the Israeli policemen). In northern Israel there were some protests from the Northern Islamic League and the usual cry of “Al-Aksa is in danger” was heard. But, the Israeli authorities announced quickly that they had no intention of changing the situation of the Mosques on the Temple Mount and indeed the Mosques were open to visitors starting this Sunday.
Some readers might be confused by the fact that the Israeli border policemen killed were Druse and not Jews. In fact, the small Druse community in Israel, even though they are Arabs, is very pro-Israel and supportive of the State. Their men usually volunteer for the Border Guards, and indeed they have a fearsome reputation for the Palestinian Arabs. The Druse religion started in Egypt hundreds of years ago and is considered heretical by Muslims. They were severely persecuted and eventually found refuge in the mountainous region that straddles the border between Israel. Syria and Lebanon. The Druse religion is secret and they are a very close-knit community, living in Israel mainly in the Carmel mountain region. They tend to be very loyal to whatever Government they live under and are renowned for their fighting ability.