Jews District Police underwent special preparations in advance of Tisha B’Av, the day of fasting in commemoration of the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem. The fast begins at sundown Wednesday.
On the former site of the temples currently stands the Muslim holy sites the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
On Wednesday the entry of Muslim worshippers to the Temple Mount will be restricted, and Thursday the site will be closed to visitors. Until then, only Muslim men above 45 years of age in possession of blue IDs will be permitted access. There will be no restrictions on the entry of women.
Jerusalem Police held an assessment of the situation Wednesday afternoon, during which Police Chief Ilan Franco decided to restrict entry to the site out of concern that extremist elements might try to disturb the peace.
Tuesday the High Court ruled that members of extreme-Right Orthodox Jewish group the Temple Mount Faithful, who wish for the reconstruction of the temple, could visit the site during normal guest hours.
Police received information that thousands of Muslims intend to reach the site in order to “protect it from Jews who plan to make pilgrimages there for Tisha B’Av.”
From the early morning hours, large police forces will be stationed across east Jerusalem, the Old City, and the lanes and gates of the Temple Mount to prevent any attempts from either side to disrupt the peace, and to secure special Tisha B’Av prayer services at the Western Wall.
Police and Border Guard forces will be posted at routes leading to the Old City and especially the Western Wall.
Jerusalem Police said restrictions on Temple Mount access would be lifted depending on further evaluations by the district command. Police noted they would act with determination against any attempt by any side to cause disturbances.