Muslims hurled at firebomb at the Israel Police post on Har Habayis early Tuesday morning, clearly in an effort to kill police officers. B’chasdei Hashem, there were no serious injuries or worse. It is reported that three persons were treated with light injuries.
Police apprehended two of the suspects, and several others were detained during violent clashes with officers.
After the incident, Israeli police sealed off entrances to the area. Police also restricted entrance to the Old City, allowing only residents to pass through certain entrances to the Muslim and Christian quarters. Other entrances to the Old City remained open.
Firas Dibs, spokesman for the Waqf, the Jordanian-appointed Islamic body that administers the Har Habayis, said police had cleared nearly all worshippers from the compound. “All doors are closed and no one is allowed in,” he said.
Several dozen worshippers gathered just outside the compound for impromptu prayers as Israeli police stood watch.
Police confirmed three arrests, while Dibs said six people had been arrested and 10 others injured in scuffles with police.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the “dangerous Israeli escalation” and warned of “serious repercussions.” In a statement, he called on the international community to intervene.
The area has experienced a series of tense standoffs in recent weeks after Muslim worshippers reopened an area known as the “Gate of Mercy,” closed by Israel in 2003.
Palestinian worshippers praying on streets of Old City as Al Aqsa Mosque Gates closures continues.
The closure of the compound also drew censure from Jordan, the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Abdul Nasser Abu Basal, Jordanian Minister of Islamic Affairs and Holy Sites, described the barring of Muslim worshippers from the site as “a flagrant assault on all religious values, rights and freedom,” and “an attack on all Muslims that touches the entire Islamic nation.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu lashed out at Israel over the incident, saying it was time to end the country’s “recklessness.”
“We cannot accept such reckless attacks on holy sites and the whole world needs to react against it,” the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Cavusoglu as saying.
The Waqf has staged periodic prayer-protests inside since late February to call for unrestricted access to the shuttered building.
Israel closed the structure in 2003, claiming it was used by an organization with ties to the Hamas terror group.
Demonstrations have devolved into standoffs with police in recent weeks. Israel has barred several guards and high-ranking officials from the Waqf, the Jordanian religious authority that administers the site, from the compound and arrested dozens of Palestinians under suspicions of inciting violence at the site.
Officials in Jordan have confirmed that they are in negotiations with Israel to resolve the dispute. Abbas’ office said the Palestinians also were in touch with various sides, including Jordan.
(AP / YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem/Photo Credit: Media Resource Group)