Controversial excavations
Photo: Yoav Galai
Jerusalem police on heightened alert
In light of tensions caused by Jerusalem excavations, local police increase regulations and reinforcements. Islamist leader expected to arrive in protest, despite restraining order barring him from area

Police will be on high alert in Jerusalem for the remainder of the week and especially Friday, in light of increased tensions due to the excavations near the Temple Mount, which have ignited Muslim sentiments in Israel and the surrounding region.


The Jerusalem District Police Chief Maj. Gen, Ilan Franco said after a Wednesday night situational analysis that a heightened alert would be necessary, due to calls by Islamic leaders to riot outside the Temple Mount.


One such leader is Sheikh Raad Salah, who is expected to join the protestors at the Temple Mount Thursday despite a restraining order instructing him to stay at least 150 meters away from the Old City for the next week and a half.


Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic movement, was detained after trying to force his way through the Mugrabi Gate near the Temple Mount, along with six accomplices, to protest the excavations taking place there.


The northern faction of the Islamic Movement expressed anger at the arrest, telling Ynet: "We assumed that the situation created by the police would end in the Sheik being barred from the al-Aqsa Mosque by an unjust court ruling."


Nonetheless, they promised to "continue our just battle against the works. Tomorrow we intend to come to the Temple Mount compound and we have already called on numerous Muslim followers to also come. On Friday we will hold a mass rally in Nazareth," they said. 


As part of increased security measures implemented due to the recent tensions, Muslim men under the age of 45 have been forbidden from entering the Temple Mount area for the past few days.


One concern is that many of these men will gather in the area, as threatened by the Islamic Movement, and riot.  Due to this, Maj. Gen. Franco said the new security measures would continue to be implemented in  the coming days. 


Police are also worried about the possibility of a mass rally in the Old City on Friday, during Muslim prayer-time.  As such, they will increase their readiness even more towards the weekend and plan to bring in police reinforcements from other precincts.  


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