A Muslim man from France was mistakenly removed from the Temple Mount on Friday, after Arab guards at the site suspected him of being a Jewish Israeli disguising himself as a Muslim, according to Palestinian reports.
Earlier on Friday, Palestinian media reported that a Jewish Israeli disguised as a Muslim had been caught attempting to enter the Temple Mount against police regulations which ban Jews from entering except through the Mughrabi Gate during specific times. The reports shared video and photos showing a man wearing black-tinted glasses and a cane used by visually impaired people, as well as traditional Islamic dress, including a "taqiyah," a skullcap worn by many Muslims.
The Palestinian Safa news agency had reported at the time that a Jewish Israeli tried to enter through the Bab al-Majlis gate, but was stopped by Arab guards at the site. He was taken to a guard room and, according to the report, a conversation with him made it clear that he was not a Muslim and he refused to show any documents proving his identity. The man was subsequently removed from the Temple Mount.
Later on Friday afternoon, the guards at the site announced that they had been mistaken and that the man was actually a Muslim from abroad. The guards stated that they became suspicious due to the man's failure to answer their questions. The guards referred to recent reports that a group of Jewish Israelis were disguising themselves as Muslims in order to freely enter the Temple Mount.
According to Al-Qastal news, the man is a French Muslim who is studying at the Department of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Al-Qastal reported that the guards may have also been confused due to Chopra not speaking Arabic well.
Jews are forbidden by Israel Police regulations from praying or bringing religious items on the Temple Mount. While the High Court of Justice has ruled that Jews have the right to pray at the site, it has also ruled that the right is superseded by the potential risk to national security it poses.
Quiet Jewish prayer at the site has seemingly been unofficially allowed since 2019, when police stopped halting Jewish prayer as long as it was quiet and in an isolated area of the Temple Mount.
"أنا مسلم وأقرأ طلع البدر علينا"حراس الأقصى يضبطون مستوطنا يهوديا متخفّيا على هيئة كفيف حاول التسلل بين المصلين إلى المسجد الأقصى المبارك pic.twitter.com/JMTHQwVsqs— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) January 14, 2022
In December, Channel 13 published a report on a group of Jewish Israelis who learn Arabic and Muslim traditions and dress in Muslim religious attire in order to enter the Temple Mount freely and then pray on the Temple Mount.
Police work intensively to combat the group, often bringing them to court and even jailing them for a number of days.
In a closed discussion with Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev, Shin Bet officials stated that they "are concerned about an 'extreme scenario,' in which a large group of Jews will conduct a coordinated attempt to enter the Temple Mount in order to hold open and full prayer which will lead to a violent flare-up at the site," according to Channel 13.
In October, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court ruled that quiet prayer was allowed on the Temple Mount, although a few days later the Jerusalem District Court accepted an appeal by Israel Police against the ruling, stating that any "religious/ritual activities having external, visible characteristics" were forbidden on the Temple Mount.
The judge refused to issue a decision concerning the exact definition of "religious/ritual activities having external, visible characteristics" nor whether the definition has room for any flexibility.