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Police reopen Temple Mount after clashes with Palestinian rioters

reposted from The Jerusalem Post
11.05.2014 | 12 Heshvan, 5775

Police cordoned off part of the plaza, forcing the rioters into the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the use of crowd-dispersal methods.

Police in Jerusalem sealed off the Temple Mount to visitors on Wednesday morning after dozens of Palestinian rioters hurled stones and shot fireworks at security forces in the vicinity.

Police cordoned off part of the plaza, forcing the rioters into the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the use of crowd-dispersal methods. Shortly afterward, authorities reopened the site, permitting Jewish worshipers to enter.

Reuters television footage showed a few Israeli border policemen running through the compound while a group of Jewish worshippers and tourists waited outside to enter.

"Police entered the area, pushed the masked rioters back, and they fled back into Al-Aqsa. Police closed the front gate of the mosque but did not enter," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

The officers used stun grenades to disperse the crowd and the situation was now under control, he said.

Omar Alkeswani, a Palestinian manager of al Aqsa, said police entered al-Aqsa and that 20 people were wounded in the clash.

Police intelligence learned that a number of Palestinian youths had amassed a large stockpile of rocks, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails inside Al-Aqsa Mosque in preparation for clashes with police. The goal of the youths, police said, was to disrupt the flow of visitors to the site.

The youths also erected a makeshift checkpoint designed to prevent the closure of entrance points to the mosque. They used iron bars, furniture, and ropes designed to keep the doors open.

Inside the mosques, the youths built fortified makeshift bunkers that were designed to be used as “battle stations” from which they would clash with police.

Authorities said these preparations indicate the careful planning and premeditation on the part of the Palestinian youths who hoped to prevent police from sealing the doors of the mosque and to hurl firebombs, rocks, and fireworks at police manning the site.

Once authorities opened the Mughrabi Gate to permit visitors’ entrance to the site, a few dozen rioters wearing balaclavas began hurling stones and shooting fireworks at police.

The issue of access to the site and freedom of worship for Jews has been thrust into the spotlight, particularly after the shooting of an activist who has long lobbied the government and police to permit Jewish prayer on Temple Mount.

Jews must be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Tuesday during a visit to the contested holy site.

“We must change the status quo,” she said. “The Temple Mount must go back to being a place for Jewish prayer.”

According to Hotovely, the attempt by an Arab terrorist from east Jerusalem to assassinate Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick last week was meant to deter Jewish people from visiting the site.

“Our response must be to strengthen the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount,” she stated.

The Likud politician’s visit came a day after MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) went up to the site, where Muslim women surrounded her and shouted, “Allahu akbar!” and, “Get out of here!” One of the women reportedly shoved her.

Moalem-Refaeli was not hurt and filed reports to police and Knesset security.

Meanwhile, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said rioting in Arab neighborhoods had decreased Tuesday as extra units maintained a heightened presence.

“No major incidents took place today, and very few disturbances were reported, including on the Temple Mount,” he said. “Police continue to implement security measures throughout the city.”



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