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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Palestinian Authority on Monday evening condemned Jerusalem's decision to restrict entrance to the Aksa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount, calling on Palestinians to confront Israel in light of the "Israeli aggression."
"We call on the Palestinian public to confront Israel and its plans, that are intended to prevent the Palestinian people from fulfilling their aspirations of establishing a Palestinian state in the occupied territories," read a statement issued by the government of PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad in Ramallah.
The PA government publicly decried "Israel's attempts to conduct Jewish prayer services in the Aksa compound" and urged the world "to force Israel to halt is efforts to Judaize the city."
Earlier Monday, Jerusalem police explained their decision to allow only worshipers over the age of 50 into the Temple Mount, revealing that wheelbarrows filled with rocks had been discovered throughout the Aksa Mosque compound on Sunday.
Palestinians had filled the wheelbarrows with stones and bricks in preparation for riots in the Old City, police assessed.
The discovery of the wheelbarrows, in addition to intelligence information and the call on Palestinians to "come and defend" Al-Aksa, led the police to restrict entrance to the Temple Mount.
Large forces of police and border police patrolled the city on Monday as thousands of Jewish worshipers flocked to the Western Wall Plaza for the biannual Priestly Blessing, which went ahead without incident.
Islamic Movement official Kamal Khatib claimed police staged the discovery of the rock-filled wheelbarrows at the Temple Mount. "It is no wonder that the police put together those rocks and then claimed the worshipers had prepared them," said the prominent Palestinian official.
In the wake of the recent clashes between police and Arab rioters in the Old City, Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco said that the capital's Muslim residents were "ungrateful."
"There's a certain degree of ungratefulness from the city's Muslim population," Franco said, "after the police worked hard to allow peaceful prayers on the Temple Mount over the month of Ramadan." He added that police would work to prevent any further disturbances in Jerusalem.
Franco's comments came after Palestinian youths threw rocks at haredim on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives earlier in the day. Police arrested the rioters, and no casualties or damage were reported.
Khatib, leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, responded to Franco's remarks, saying that "It is as though he [Franco] is doing us a favor by allowing us into our own mosque. Franco would do well to remember that this is the Al-Aksa Mosque, it is not the Western Wall, it is not the Temple."
Khatib was arrested Sunday on suspicion of fanning the riots which occurred on the Temple Mount throughout the day and was banished on Monday from the Old City area for a period of 15 days.
Jordan on Sunday evening rebuked Israel for the clashes earlier in the day and expressed dismay at Jerusalem's decision to restrict entry to the Temple Mount on Monday.
Israel's ambassador in Amman, Yaakov Rosen, was summoned for a meeting with the head of Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh's bureau. Rosen was handed a letter demanding that Israel immediately stop the "disturbances" in east Jerusalem and at the Aksa Mosque.
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said that during the meeting, Rosen stressed that Israel had been handling the situation responsibly, responding with restraint despite the violent provocation by hostile Muslim groups.
Rosen explained that Israel had acted legally, and that the clashes in the Old City would not have erupted had the Muslims not incited violence.
Judeh also sent a letter of protest to the ambassadors of the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council in which he called on the council to pressure Israel over the matter.