September 27, 2013
Following recent incidents of rioting at the holy site, police are taking precautions to keep order during Muslim prayers
by Haviv Rettig Gur and Lazar Berman
The Israel Police will limit entry to the Temple Mount for Muslim worshipers Friday in an effort to preserve calm in the Old City.
Men must be over 50 or carry blue identification cards — indicating either Israeli citizenship or eligibility for said citizenship — to enter the area of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, police said. There are no restrictions on the entry of women.
The Temple Mount was the scene of clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli police Wednesday morning, the latest in a series of skirmishes as Jewish pilgrims flocked to the site over the Jewish Sukkot holiday.
After Palestinians began throwing stones in the courtyard and rioting, police officers stormed the compound, with the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reporting that police fired stun grenades at the rioters. Seven Palestinians were injured, according to Ma’an.
Once the unrest settled down, police exited the area to wait by the Mughrabi Gate overlooking the Western Wall.
The sensitive Temple Mount area, holy to both Muslims and Jews, is controlled by the Muslim Wakf, but security is overseen by Israel. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit, but all non-Muslim religious ritual is banned.
Tensions heightened on the Temple Mount during the Jewish holiday season, which ended Thursday night.
On Tuesday morning, Jerusalem police closed the Temple Mount to non-Muslim visitors, citing security concerns — a surprise announcement that caused many holiday pilgrims and tourists to be turned away at the site.
“Security assessments were made, due to the fact that there was general intelligence that there would be disturbances on the Temple Mount. And, therefore, for security reasons, we’ve closed the Temple Mount to visitors for the moment,” Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told The Times of Israel.