Sivan 8, 5771, June 10, 2011
by Melanie Lidman
Security forces return to site of Kotel and Al-Aksa mosque after eight months of quiet; three are arrested but no injuries are reported.
Police forces burst onto the Temple Mount plaza on Friday afternoon following the end of Friday prayers at the Al-Aksa Mosque, after dozens of young worshippers started throwing rocks from the entrance of the Mugrahbi Gate towards the Kotel plaza below. Three demonstrators were arrested in connection with rock throwing, and police are expecting more arrests during the course of Shabbat. There were no injuries.
Demonstrators began throwing the rocks next to the Mugrahbi gate around 1:35. Border police entered the plaza around 1:40 and immediately broke up the demonstrations using force. The rest of the worshippers left the premises by 2:30 without incident, the police reported.
It was the first time since last fall that police forces had entered the Temple Mount plaza with force. In September, there was widespread rioting in east Jerusalem and the Old City, including at the Al-Aksa Mosque, after a private security guard killed a Silwan resident.
Police also did not place limits on who could enter the Temple Mount on Friday. When demonstrations are expected or tensions are especially high, security forces only allow male worshippers over the age of 45 who have blue Israeli ID cards to enter the plaza, though women of all ages are permitted to enter.
These limitations were in place last Friday, before Naksa Day, "the setback" or the anniversary of the Six Day War, as well as the Friday before Nakba Day, "the catastrophe" and the anniversary of the 1948 Independence War.
Other areas of east Jerusalem were quiet on Friday afternoon, said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby.