(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Arab MKs joined hundreds of Muslims rioting at the Old City of Jerusalem’s Lions’ Gate after police banned men under the age of 50 from entering the Temple Mount on Wednesday due to fear of violence.
Protesters threw rocks and firecrackers at the police and security forces, who used riot control means.
Police then closed the Temple Mount to all visitors at 10:15 a.m. due to “operative considerations.”
Balad MKs Haneen Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Bassel Ghattas, United Arab List-Ta’al MKs Ibrahim Sarsour and Taleb Abu Arrar and Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei took part in the demonstration.
“Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian state that the whole world is beginning to recognize,” Zoabi said. “There will be no end to the conflict, no solution without Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem.”
According to Zoabi, “Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state, even if [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu doesn’t want it to be and even if the extremists deny it.”
Zoabi led a group of Muslim women shouting at police, “It is our right to enter,” and soon after, the lawmakers were allowed to enter the Temple Mount.
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The limits to access and increased security presence in the Old City came two days after police trapped dozens of Arab rioters at the Aksa Mosque for hours. The mob had collected rocks, fireworks and firebombs in order to confront police and disturb Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. The rioters set up barricades at the entrance to the Aksa Mosque. Police removed the barricades while under attack from a barrage of rocks, pushed the hooligans toward the mosque and locked them inside. Four suspects were arrested.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said many of the rioters were members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount are always limited in the hours in which may ascend the Mount, and they may not pray or engage in any religious activity while there.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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