Police detained Jerusalem Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein for questioning Wednesday morning over suspicions that he was involved in disturbances at the Temple Mount on Tuesday. Hussein was released without charge after some six hours, however police stated that the investigation against him was ongoing.
Some fifteen Muslim worshipers threw chairs at security forces Tuesday, lightly injuring two police officers after they arrested an Arab youth who allegedly disturbed the peace and yelled at Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount.
The detaining of Hussein came on the 46th Jerusalem Day, which commemorates the capital’s reunification in 1967 following the Six Day War.
Five Jewish men were also detained at the Temple Mount on Wednesday for attempting to pray at the site.
Police stated that Muslim worshipers began gathering and yelling at the Jewish men, but they were escorted away by Wakf Muslim religious officials and calm was restored.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the detention, calling it "a flagrant challenge to the freedom of worship" and called for Hussein's immediate release. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said it was a "grave escalation in Israel's relentless violations of international law".
Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority-appointed governor of Jerusalem and a former head of the Wakf, came out harshly agaist Hussein's detention on Wednesday, saying, "While gangs of settlers terrorize Palestinian families all over the city, Occupation forces arrest [the] Mufti of Jerusalem.”
Police Spokeman Micky Rosenfeld said 18 Palestinians were arrested near Damascus Gate Wednesday for attempting to incite violence before the Jerusalem Day march.
“More than 50,000 people are marching today from the center of town to the Old City and thousands of police officers are overseeing all activities to ensure public safety,” he said.
Reuters and Daniel K. Eisenbud contributed to this report.