Jewish visitors in Temple Mount.
(photo credit: ARNON SEGAL)
The Temple Mount has been reopened for the entrance of Jewish worshipers and visitors, police announced Wednesday afternoon after it had earlier closed the compound due to “breaching the rules of conduct that apply to the holy site.”
Riots near the Temple Mount (Courtesy)
According to a police statement, Jerusalem District Police Commander, Maj.-Gen. Yoram Halevy decided to close the Mughrabi gate, which is the only gate that Jews and tourist can use to enter the Temple Mount, after a group broke the rules of visit. A Haaretz report holds that a Jewish group smuggled holy books (Sifrei Kodesh) inside the compound.
The visit time was supposed to end at 11 a.m. and the group was asked to leave at 10:45 a.m.
Religious restrictions are imposed on Jewish visitors to the compound, including that ability to walk around freely or pray. Also, there are four hours a day in which Jewish groups can enter the site.
Police added that it is yet to be determined when visits will be allowed again.
Meanwhile, that compound is open for Muslim worshipers who continue their ban, for the fourth consecutive day. Muslims are protesting against the installation of metal detectors at the gates of the Temple Mount.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) criticized the police move and said that in these times strength is being measured.
“This is an outrageous move of collective punishment that is providing a tailwind to terrorism
,” said Smotrich. “The Wakf people and Israeli Arabs decided to open a wave of riots because of the installation of metal scanners, and now they are closing Temple Mount because of some mumbling of [prayer] quotes?”
Smotrich then called Halevy to retract his move. “Our next steps will be our sovereignty test here, we should not repeat our past mistakes.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the move a mistake and reiterated the call to open the site for Jews.
“There are days in which we should strengthen our sovereignty in the Temple Mount, and make it clear that we are not intimidated by threats.
“It is impossible that in the holiest place for Jews, they should feel that their class is lower than tourists.”
Clashes sparked Tuesday night between security forces and Palestinians near the Lions' Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The clashes started after the evening prayer and continued into the early morning hours. It is still unclear what sparked the violence.
According to Palestinian sources, 34 have been reported injured among the hundreds of rioters.
One of those reportedly injured is Sheikh Akram a-Sabri, former Mufti of Jerusalem and al-Aksa's preacher.
Two policemen were lightly injured during the clashes.
A police spokesman said that the rioters threw molotov cocktails and rocks at police forces situated next to the Lions' Gate. He added that the rioters were dispersed from the area.