Israeli police forces arrested five Palestinians at Temple Mount gate
Israeli police entered the Gate of Mercy (Bab al-Rahma) on the Temple Mount on Thursday, arresting five young men and removing wooden partitions, according to the Palestinian Safa News Agency.
The police attempted to prevent people in the Gate of Mercy building from filming the incursion, Palestinian news agency Sawa reported.
Tensions escalated around the Gate of Mercy building earlier this year, when the state attempted to prevent the Jordanian Waqf from building an illegal mosque in the structure.
The Wakf, an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, administers the Temple Mount site. Visits by religious Jews to the Temple Mount are monitored by Waqf guards and Israeli police – and all Jewish prayer, including silent prayer, is forbidden, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. No sacred Jewish objects, such as prayer books or prayer shawls, may be brought onto the mount, according to the tourism website Tourist Israel.
The director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Safa that Israeli police entered the gate and removed wooden partitions and a shoe closet, and arrested five youths and brought them to the police station by the Old City’s Lion’s Gate.
According to Kiswani, 159 “extremists” and 30 Jewish students entered the Temple Mount on Thursday morning. He claimed that four settlers prostrated on the ground and were removed from the premises.
“There is a clear incitement by Israel, and a systematic program to change the reality in Al-Aqsa and impose a new reality in it by armed force,” said Kiswani.
The mosque director called to counter measures by Israel to protect Jews who enter the Temple Mount complex, adding that the struggle over Al-Aqsa is not just a religious conflict but also a fight for sovereignty, and requires “an Arab-Islamic position to support the Waqf and… its guarding of Al-Aqsa in light of the ongoing Israeli attack against it.”
Safa reported that there has been a “marked escalation” in the frequency of visits by Israeli Jews and “extremist calls to storm [Al-Aqsa] during the Jewish holidays amid tight restrictions imposed by the occupation authorities on the Palestinians.”
On Tuesday, the Hamas terrorist organization released an official statement condemning Israeli incursions onto the Temple Mount, saying that Israel was “playing with fire” and would pay a price for their “provocations” at the Aqsa Mosque.
In the statement, Hamas claimed that many “Zionist movements” have called for incursions onto the Temple Mount on Thursday, which the terrorist organizations sees as a “systematic plan to Judaize Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Hamas called on the international community to intervene and pressure Israel to stop its “violations against Islamic and Christian holy sites in occupied Palestine.” The terrorist group called on Palestinians to mobilize and defend the mosque.
On Wednesday, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned “continued Israeli violations” against Al-Aqsa, the Jordan News Agency reported. A spokesperson for the ministry, Sufian Qudah, voiced Jordan’s “categorical rejection of these absurd practices and irresponsible provocations” that run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law.
Qudah called on the Israeli authorities to halt visits by Jewish Israelis to the Temple Mount and to respect the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the historical and legal situation in Jerusalem.
On February 22, Muslim worshipers entered the Gate of Mercy area, a previously closed zone on the Temple Mount; Israel arrested a senior Islamic Waqf authority official on February 24 in response.
In February, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed authorities to prevent the opening of a mosque at Mercy Gate, but this was not adhered to and construction continued.