Middle East

Israeli police escort Jewish visitors to Temple Mount

Groups of Jewish visitors were allowed to enter Temple Mount on Sunday under police protection, marking a drop in tensions two days after the truce between Israel and Hamas went into effect.

The Jerusalem site is considered holy by both Jews and Muslims, who refer to it as Haram al-Sharif.

In the run-up to the recent 11 days of conflict in the region, police repeatedly clashed with Palestinian protesters around the site.

Palestinians fear that the Israeli state would take control of the compound, which is currently managed by the Islamic Waqf under the custodianship of Jordan. Israel denies this.

The clashes, alongside the push to evict dozens of Palestinian families from their homes, fanned the violence that turned into an all-out war.

New clashes were reported on Friday, despite the fragile truce. Israeli police reportedly fired stun grenades at the Muslim worshippers in the compound.

What happened on Sunday?

The Waqf said the Israeli police cleared out all young Palestinians from the compound and banned entry for any Palestinians under the age of 45. The police denied there was an age restriction. Israeli officials also said they arrested five people for “violating public order.”

Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina warned that the Israeli visits could “sabotage” the Gaza cease-fire, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

However, DW’s Dana Regev said that no major clashes have been reported from the site.

“Now we have to hope that this tense calm would remain,” she said from Jaffa in Tel Aviv.

Why is the site important?

The holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City is believed to be the location of the ancient temple built by the biblical King Solomon, as well as the so-called Second Temple built on the ruins of the more ancient building and eventually destroyed by the Romans in the first century AD.

For Muslims, the area is the home of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the site from which Prophet Mohammed is believed to have ascended into heaven during the so-called Night Journey.


IMAGE: People walk next to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 31.

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