Temple Mount closed for Tisha Be'av

Fearing violence, police to bar non-Muslim visitors from entering premises.

temple mount 224.88 (photo credit: Areil Jerozolimski [file])
temple mount 224.88
(photo credit: Areil Jerozolimski [file])
Citing intelligence alerts of possible violence, Jerusalem police announced Wednesday that the Temple Mount will be closed to non-Muslim visitors on Thursday, as the nation marks Tisha Be'av and the destruction of the biblical Jewish temples. Two right-wing Jewish activists were barred from entering the Mount, and one of them was held for investigation. The largely expected police decision to shut the Mount to Jews and Christians on the fast day came just two days after the the High Court of Justice ruled that members of the Temple Mount Faithful - with the exception of the group's leader, Gershon Salomon - could enter the site on Tisha Be'av if it is open to visitors. The decision to shut the Mount to visitors, which was made by Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Ilan Franco, followed an amalgamation of intelligence information that thousands of Muslims were planning to flock to the site to "protect" it from Jews who were planning to visit on Tisha Be'av at the urging of "extremist" Jewish groups, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. Muslim men younger than 45 will also be barred from entering the compound for the next 48 hours. In the past, the site has been repeatedly closed down to non-Muslim visitors on Tisha Be'av due to concern over the outbreak of violence, drawing the wrath of Israeli rightists who accuse police of "capitulating" to Arab threats. Last year, the Temple Mount was shut on Tisha Be'av on the eve of the pullout from the Gaza Strip.