Police close Temple Mount, Arabs riot
Following calls by Muslim clerics, Palestinian officials to 'come protect the Mount,' Jerusalem Police decide not to allow visitors, worshippers into holy site. Some 150 Arabs begin hurling stones, bottles; two police officers lightly injured. Three rioters arrested, senior Fatah member Hatem Abdel Kader detained for questioning
The Jerusalem Police on Sunday morning closed the Temple Mount to visitors and Muslim worshippers for fear of riots. According to the police, the holy site was shut down following calls in east Jerusalem to "come protect the Mount." Senior Fatah member Hatem Abdel Kader was detained for questioning.
Shortly after the Mount was closed, some 150 Arabs began hurling empty bottles at police forces in the Old City. The rioters were dispersed to the Wadi Joz neighborhood, where they continued to hurl stones. Two police officers were lightly injured by stones, and three rioters were arrested.
Dozens of worshippers arrived at the al-Aqsa Mosque. The mosque's manager, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, called on the Arab and Muslim nations and on international organizations on Sunday morning to "curb the extreme right-wing government which has failed to restrain the radical groups dreaming of placing an imaginary cornerstone for their imaginary temple.
"Breaking into the mosques will be a move crossing all red lines and will set the region on fire. The mosques are for Muslims only, according to God."
The decision to close the site was made following calls spread on the Palestinian media on Saturday evening and throughout the night. Large police and Border Guard forces were deployed at the Old City's alleys and around the Temple Mount compound in a bid to prevent any attempts to case disturbances.
Police forces in Wadi Joz (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Many Jewish visitors are expected flock to Jerusalem during the holiday of Sukkot, particularly to the Old City and Western Wall, adding to the tense atmosphere.
On Yom Kippur Eve, following calls to protect the Temple Mount, violent riots broke out in the area after a group of tourists arrived at the holy site accompanied by a police force. The tourists were attacked by a group of some 150 Palestinians who hurled stones at them.
The group was eventually removed from the area by the police, but violent riots broke out in the area and lasted throughout the Jewish holy day. Some 20 police officers were lightly injured in the clashes, and 30 rioters were arrested.
Muslim clerics in the Palestinian Authority, senior Palestinian officials in the Jerusalem area – led by Abdel Kader – and heads of the Islamic Movement in Israel have called on Muslim worshippers in recent days to arrive in masses at the al-Aqsa Mosque "in order to curb the police's attempts to allow Jewish groups to enter the compound."
Abdel Kader, who was Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's advisor on Jerusalem affairs, has even warned that al-Aqsa is about to slowly collapse due to excavation works performed by Israel under the mosque.
Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement's northern faction said Saturday evening that "if we have to choose between giving up the al-Aqsa Mosque and being shahids (martyrs), we choose to be shahids."
Ali Waked contributed to this report