The Jerusalem Police plans to send a hefty contingent to the Temple Mount on Friday, in preparation for possible protests and riots after Muslim morning prayers conclude, as tensions in the city remain high.
The turmoil in and around Al-Aqsa mosque in the past week, as well as intelligence indicating Arab youths intend to violently protest, led Jerusalem’s chief of police, Maj. Gen. Moshe Edri, to order the reinforcement.
Acts of violence continued in Jerusalem on Thursday evening.
A bus driver was lightly wounded in the city when stones hit his bus near the Hizma checkpoint. He was treated by a paramedic team and taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
Meanwhile, a bus was pelted with rocks in the Palestinian district of Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem, leading its Arab driver to flee and seek help from a nearby police car.
When the driver, accompanied by the police officers, returned to the bus, they discovered it was on fire. Firefighters were rushed to extinguish the blaze. Police have launched an investigation into whehter the fire started due to a thrown Molotov cocktail.
In addition, Molotov cocktails were thrown on an Israel Defense Forces base in Jerusalem. Firefighters managed to extinguish the flames, and a guard tower was slightly damaged. The Molotov cocktails were seemingly thrown from the direction of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya.
The entrance to the Temple Mount area on Friday will be restricted for Muslims to men over the age of 40 and women and girls of any age. The last time age restrictions were applied in the compound was a month and a half ago, in the aftermath of the murder of Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsheh, when police decided to only let men aged 50 and above and women and girls of any age enter.
The Jerusalem police have reinforced their presence in the eastern and western parts of the city, with an emphasis on the surrounding area and ancient Jerusalem. “Police and border police forces will keep order and prevent any attempt to sabotage the day-to-day life in the ancient city area and in east Jerusalem”, said Edri.
Despite tensions, estimates are that the incidents experienced on Rosh Hashanah eve and during the holiday, of masked men barricading themselves inside Al-Aqsa mosque will not be repeated, since Jewish people are not expected to visit the area on Friday.