Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Israeli police reopen Temple Mount holy site after clashes

Israeli police reopen Temple Mount holy site after clashes

In addition, the Israeli military said its troops shot dead a Palestinian man earlier on Tuesday, after he lunged toward them with a kitchen knife near a military post in Hebron in an attempted stabbing attack. It led the Hamas terror group to call on Palestinians to protest in a mass march to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to "defy the "Israeli" occupation's decision to close it and impose the will of the worshipers to enter and exit the mosque when they want".

The compound is the third-holiest site in Islam and a focus of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

The Israelis then shut the compound's gates and prevented Palestinians from entering the Old City through the Damascus Gate, a major entrance to the ancient walled area.

The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif was re-opened to worshipers on Wednesday morning after a bout of fresh clashes at the contentious holy site the day before, amid soaring tensions over the status of a contested prayer area that has been closed off by Israel for more than a decade.

Israeli forces assaulted dozens of worshipers and sealed off all of Al-Aqsa Mosque gates, on Tuesday afternoon, upon a fire breakout at a nearby Israeli police station in Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.

The Waqf, a Jordanian-appointed body that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has staged periodic prayer-protests since late February to call for the reopening of the building.

Israeli security forces in Jerusalem's Old City.

The Jerusalem police commander subsequently ordered the Mount closed to allow for searches to be carried out.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' office condemned "the risky Israeli escalation in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque" and urged the worldwide community to intervene after the shutdown.

The spot, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and gold-topped Dome of the Rock, is a frequent flashpoint of violence.

Access to the Golden Gate was closed in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada over alleged militant activity there, police say.

The longstanding closure of the site has ignited tensions between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police in recent weeks.

High-level Israeli and Jordanian officials have been holding talks in the hope of defusing the situation.

Haartez reports that Israeli officials have met with Jordan in recent weeks to figure out how to calm tensions and avoid an escalation.

The 16-year Israeli closure order against Bab al-Rahma expired in August and the Waqf, the Islamic endowment body tasked with managing the Temple Mount compound, has argued in favor of reopening the building claiming the Islamic heritage association that had been operating there had always been disbanded and its members arrested.

Last month, the Waqf reopened the site and Palestinian worshipers began to use it as a mosque, despite Israeli attempts to keep the area sealed.

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