Chapter 1: Introduction
1. The commission expresses its deep sorrow over the loss of life on the Temple Mount, and conveys its sorrow to the families who 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 published in their entirety for the public and, therefore, it 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 [19681 and has decided that no testimony and material received will 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 Inspector-General of Police, the head of the General Security Services, police and Border Police commanders, and also police officers and Border policemen. The commission also heard a number of detainees, among them Faisal Hussaini and Sheikh Mohammad Said al-Jamal a-Rifai.
5. The commission visited Makassed 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 under the law. The objective of the commission was to examine that which was demanded of it in its letter of appointment - it is not within 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 October 8, 1990 will be determined by the competent authorities.
7. The commission received written material from various sources including BIselem, but the witnesses whose statements were attached to the Btselern report refused to appear for questioning before the commission. Appeals by the commission to the High Moslem Council and the Wakf 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 Makassed 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 to public order on the Temple Mount - is eligible for benefits under the Victims of Hostile Action (Pensions) Law - 5730 .
Chapter 2: Conclusions and Inferences
1. The Status of the Temple Mount: 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 formulate policy, direct preparations for various situations, decide on and supervise the coordination between the parties involved in safeguarding Temple Mount and the Western Wall. This committee will consult religious leaders as is required by law.
2. Causes of the Incident:
A. The Moslem gathering on the Temple Mount exceeded the intended purpose of the site and the norms which a holy site call for. The members of the Wakf knew that the High Court had 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 police informed the Wakf 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 over the loudspeakers "Allahu Akbar" [God is Great], "Ahad" [Holy War], "Itbah 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. The actions of the rioters, and certainly the inciters, constituted a threat to the lives of the police, the thousands of worshippers at the Western Wall and to themselves. This was a serious criminal offense committed by masses who were incited by preachers over 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 on the Temple Mount and their leaders were involved in the disturbing of public order, causing harm to police and worshippers and endangering their lives.
3. Use of Force by the Police:
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 worshippers who were at the Western Wall.
The firing of tear gas and rubber bullets by the police, which followed 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 to many of them, the police were forced to retreat from the Temple Mount through Moghrabi Gate, and the barrage continued over the Western Wall, the Moghrabi 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 post. There was also concern that the weapons and ammunition in the station would fall. into the hands of the rioters. Due to a lack of communication, the police commanders did not know that the policemen trapped in the station had succeeded in escaping.
C. The breaking [into the Temple Mount] was accompanied by the use of tear gas grenades and live ammunition as the masses rained rocks and other materials on the police, which endangered their lives. The continuation of this onslaught against the police, in which masked assailants participated, required the police to attack with five ammunition. When the masses entered the mosques, the order was given to "cease fire."
D. The commission is of the opinion that following the breaking into the Moghrabi 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 receiving a specific order. The conclusions of the investigation should be submitted to the minister of police and the police inspector-general.
F. An ambulance was hit by gunfire in the windshield and side, with a nurse and the driver sustaining injuries. It was made clear to the commission that the police did not see the ambulance which stood between the pillars of the entrance to al-Aqsa mosque. The recommendations to the National Insurance Institute given in Chapter I 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.
4. The Functioning of the Senior Command Level of the Israel Police:
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 canceled, the measures they took were routine.
B. District and regional commanders did not take into account the accumulated influence of the intifada, the environment created by terrorist elements and their attitude toward the Gulf crisis, and calls for incitement by the muezzin 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 mount. The situation also required the presence of district and regional commanders and, as the situation intensified, there was room for the summoning of the inspector-general. Activating an emergency situation for the security of the Temple Mount, setting up a forward command post, 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 inspector-general nor the minister of police were briefed early on regarding developments of 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 jurisdiction 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 events.
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 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 area police functioned does not diminish the courage of the area commander, his officers and policemen in the course of subduing the rioters.
A. Difficulties exist in the gathering of information, its analysis, in issuing warnings and in assisting in preventing disruptions of public order. The commission is of the opinion that the division of tasks between the GSS and the police is basically correct and should not be changed.
B. The GSS has taken upon itself the gathering of information on the organization of disruption of order and the police have taken upon themselves the gathering of information in the street, with regard to developments that are characterized as spontaneous.
C. In the incident on the Temple Mount, there was no lack of advance information: there were general warnings by the GSS, and, above all, there was other 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 inspector-general, the commander of the southern district and the commander of the Jerusalem region was in the evaluation of the information and in focusing 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 preventive action that the situation demanded. Given this mistake, the police did not deploy its forces along the lines of past formats; a forward command post was not set up as it should have been and a deterrent force was not concentrated to intervene as would be normal. This basic evaluation did not change, even when there was precise information on the number of people on the Temple Mount.
E. The GSS preparations were different from those of the police. The GSS made it clear that an unexpected accelerating factor 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 a 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 tasks 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 should be established. This committee would 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 would operate within police framework and as part of district headquarters.
6. Authority not Implemented and Deterrent Actions not Taken:
A. The fourth intermediate day of Succot, October 8, 1990, was loaded with events and the police allocated forces and commanders to each of them. The commission proposes to view events on the Temple Mount 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 be solely dealt with from a legal and formal aspect. Moslems view this group as a provocative and threatening element which intends to drive them from the Temple Mount. The Moslem leadership took advantage of the presence of this group in order to incite those gathered on the Temple Mount. The police should have allowed this group presence in the area only on a different day during the festival.
The police saw themselves bound by the High Court decision. Nevertheless, the commission has ascertained 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 Old City concourses which have a high probability of resulting in severe disturbances.
C. The Prevention 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 which is 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 assembly 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 out the loudspeakers. In the commission's opinion, this technical problem could have been solved in the past and everything must be done to prevent future use of the loudspeakers for incitement.
Had the police acted in such a manner, criticism would likely have been limited to the Moslem public and other hostile elements. 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 lie with the thousands of rioters who took advantage of the site in order to carry out disturbances.
D. Ban on Demonstrations in the Area of the Old City: The national interest of the State of Israel and the special situation in the Old City require reevaluation of what can or cannot be permitted in respect to assemblies 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.
E. Use of Technological Means: The commission justifies the use of live ammunition on the Temple Mount under the prevailing conditions. 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 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 technodefense crew that will evaluate possibilities for solving the problem of protecting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. The ministerial committee should reach decisions on this as soon as possible.
F. Direction, Follow-Up and Supervision by the Minister of Police: The Minister of Police carries ministerial responsibility for the actions of the police. The commission is aware of existing law, and of the special position and responsibilities of the police inspector-general. It accepts that there is no place for the interference of the Minister of Police in the process of a criminal investigation, but in- the matter of keeping order the active involvement of the minister is necessary if he is to carry out his ministerial responsibility. The current structure of the police ministry does not allow for this, and it is therefore urgent that a solution be found.
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 maintaining public order, while paying special attention to the Old City and the holy sites.
Chapter 3: The Temple Mount from a Legal, Historical and Political Perspective
The Legal Situation
The Temple Mount lies within the sovereign jurisdiction 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 enacted 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, for all religions, is guaranteed. Paragraph I 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 King 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 it had been guaranteed in the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Jordan in 1948. Observant Jews are prohibited by orthodox religious law and the rulings of the chief rabbis, from entering the Temple Mount, and their prayers are recited at the Western Wall.
Non-observant 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 Moslems and the Temple Mount
Since the Arab conquest of Jerusalem in 638, the Temple Mount has been a Moslem religious center. The High Court of Justice recognized the Temple Mount as a holy place for Moslems and it functions as a center for Moslem prayer. Given the exceptional sensitivity surrounding this holy place, former Prime Minister Levi Eshkol said, as early as June 27, 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 Moslem Wakf.
The Responsibility for the Security of the Temple Mount
The responsibility for the security of the Temple Mount has been placed on the civil authorities, whether during the days of the British Mandate or during the time of Jordanian rule. That is to say, the maintaining 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 Wakf 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 Baid Alla al-Adin - which was published following the fire at al-Aqsa mosque in 1969, it was said, among other things, that "the occupation authorities, being as they are, cannot escape their security responsibilities. The guardians of the Moslem 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 Adjudicative Aspect
Freedom of religion for Jews on the Temple Mount, as opposed to freedom of access, has been dealt with in many judgments of the Supreme Court. In these judgments, the police decision to refuse permission to Jews who wish to pray on the Temple Mount was examined. The majority of appeals against such decisions 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, preferably to "...the hard-line and non-flexible approach of the law..." (see HCJ 222/86).
Chapter 4: Review of Orders and Israel Police Preparations
At the beginning of 1990, an operational plan was formulated which dealt with police preparations in the Jerusalem District, and which was termed "First Thought." The main points of the plan determined that responsibility for the above district would be held by the Border Police headquarters, Jerusalem, which would be subordinate to the Jerusalem District [police] command and that the new headquarters would be granted the possibility and authority to operate on independent initiative.
The Border Police "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" and activities of the Temple Mount Faithful were cited among such circumstances.
Police Orders Regarding Security on the Temple Mount
Jerusalem District - In July 1983, the Jerusalem District 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 Police force stations 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 "standing orders" - security and regulations on the Temple Mount. No detailed order given by the Southern District or the Jerusalem District was brought to the commission's attention, and the order given in July 1983 will be updated.
Border Police - in June 1989, a security order was issued to the Border Police "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 Police unit.
Israel Police Order Issued Before 8.10.90
National Headquarters - On 21.8.90, the operations division of national headquarters issued "Operational Orders -Holidays 1990," intended to ensure public order and especially to ensure the safety of worshippers at various sites. The intelligence 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 Succot 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 District Headquarters - In August 1990, headquarters issued Jerusalem headquarters preparation orders for the 1990 holidays. The orders emphasized holyday 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 appendices were added to the orders. Appendix 9 dealt with the Old City police station, Appendix 13 with events due to take place over the holydays; 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 Police - On 16.9.90, preparation orders for the 1990 holydays 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 Succot holiday and on the day of the priestly benediction.
Preliminary Information and Discussions Held Before the Events
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 holydays 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 district 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 gave briefings 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."
The Appeal of the Temple Mount Faithful to the High Court
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 succa next to the Moghrabi Gate was discussed. A declaration made by an officer from the Jerusalem district 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 succa adjacent to the Moghrabi Gate would result in stone-throwing, which could unintentionally harm worshippers 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 Wakf administration and to al-Aqsa mosque administration.
Preparations Regarding the Temple Mount Before 8.10.90
Calls during Friday prayers:
Despite press coverage and the announcements communicated to the Wakf administration, the muezzin, 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 muezzin's appeal, speeches were made, repeating the appeals.
Intelligence sources and a Hamas leaflet informed, of expected disturbances on October 5, 6, 7-11. On October 7, 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.
Discussion and Publications
On October 5, a discussion regarding security preparations in Jerusalem was held in the police minister's office. On October 7, 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 news preparations in Jerusalem resulting from the Moslem religious leaders' calls.
Chapter 5: Description of Events on the Temple Mount on 8.10.90
This chapter describes as 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.
The chain of events began at 3:30 a.m., when Moslem worshippers entered the Temple Mount for dawn prayers, and ended at 1:30 p.m. In this summary, we only will make mention of a number of main events.
At 8:30 a.m., 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 Wakf dignitaries. The police commander announced that no one [i.e. no non-Moslems] would enter the Temple Mount on that day. It was emphasized that this so included the Temple Mount Faithful.
At 8:40, a gathering of about 2,000 people was reported and a warning about disturbances was given. A Border Patrol officer requested response.
At 9:00 a reinforcement force of Border Police was deployed above the Western Wall.
Between 9:15 and 9:30 Wakf dignitaries were requested to calm the atmosphere.
Between 9:40 and 9:50 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 9:50, approximately 20 members of the Temple Mount Faithful arrived at the Western Wall Plaza and 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. Wakf 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 Police policemen, some of whom were injured, retreated to beyond the Moghrabi Gate and toward the Mahkameh. The evacuation of worshippers 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 worshippers and Border Policemen. were being evacuated, no five fire was directed at the rioters.
At 11:05, policemen began breaking through to the Temple Mount via the Moghrabi 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 post. 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 fired. 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 reconnaissance 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 Policemen arrived at the vicinity of the Lions' Gate after hearing on two-way radios that severe riots and disturbances were taking place there.
Between 12:50 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. a team of Border Policemen were attacked by youths and masked assailants near Makassed 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. Nineteen policemen were injured as well as nine Western Wall worshippers. According to Police statistics, 20 people were killed and 52 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 fatalities and wounded were caused while the victims were on the Temple Mount. Nobody was wounded while in a mosque or building on the Temple Mount compound.
Chapter 6: Organization, Operation and Supervision
Intelligence - Difficulties in the gathering of information create a division of tasks 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 October 8, was partly covert and partly overt: muezzin 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 notified the Wakf administration of the High Court decision endorsement of the police decision to prevent the Temple Mount Faithful from carrying out their plans - passions would calm down. This was done, and the Jerusalem District 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 related to the commission on October 16 differed. According to this evaluation, an unexpected accelerating factor in a[n 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 October 8.
Police Preparations for Operations on the Temple Mount - A Border Police regiment is subordinate to the Jerusalem District. "C" Company, part of this regiment, is stationed in the Old City. A standby unit is also stationed at the Mahkameh. The Border Police 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 when there are disturbances, the Jerusalem District 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 Police company in the Old City arises.
The division of command over policemen on the Temple Mount, between the commander of the Old City and the Border Police 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 District commander, who subsequently took command of all forces. The deployment of forces on the Temple Mount on October 8 was based on preparation orders of the Jerusalem District Southern Region, which were issued to Border Police headquarters. Border Police 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 brought them to 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 worshippers to severe danger.
Lessons - Police Deployment on the Temple Mount - Thousands of worshippers concentrate on the Temple Mount and in the Western Wall Plaza on religious holidays. The mounting extremism among minority groups of Jews and Moslems obligates the adoption of appropriate security measures. The gathering of hundreds of Moslems within the Temple Mount boundaries constitutes a threat to worshippers 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, 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 onslaught of more than 2,000 Moslems on Border 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 Policemen warned worshippers at the Western Wall to begin evacuation of the Plaza.
Stage 2: The district commander arrived at the Moghrabi 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 district commander allows the use of live ammunition, in accordance with police orders.
The charging police forces gathered in an unsupervised manner. During the charge there was an indiscriminate 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 policemen whose lives were in danger were justified in using live ammunition. Gaining control of the line between the police station and Aksa 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 Activating the Forces - The Jerusalem District headquarters and Border Police headquarters had no advance plans for gaining control of the Temple Mount area. It was not forecast that on normal 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 Police forces above the Wall came as a surprise to the district commander and the district operations officer. It would have been preferable to ensure that the Gate of the Chains remain open through advance planning and early orders.
The many events that took place in the Jerusalem District resulted in the fact that the district 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 reevaluation of forces, a suitable deterrent force would have prevented the mob from attacking the Border 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 October 8; faults have to be rectified; and the function of [forces] in the Temple Mount area in times of emergency, as well as under regular conditions, has to be reevaluated.
Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs