Police Close Har Habayis After Clashes


yerushalayimJordan slammed Israel this evening for violent clashes that erupted on the Har Habayis earlier today and expressed dismay at Israel’s decision to close the compound tomorrow, allowing only Muslim worshipers over the age of 50 to enter the site.

Israel’s Ambassador in Jordan Yaakov Rosen was summoned for a meeting with the head of Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh’s bureau. Rosen was handed a letter demanding that Israel immediately stop the “disturbances” in east Yerushalayim and the Aqsa Mosque.

The riots, which left a policemen lightly wounded, had erupted after Palestinian men refused to leave the Aqsa Mosque compound, defying an Israeli decision to evacuate the site due to security concerns.

The Foreign Ministry in Yerushalayim said that in the meeting, Rosen stressed that Israel has been handling the situation responsibly, responding with restraint despite the violent provocation by hostile Muslim groups.

Rosen explained that Israel acted legally, and said that the clashes in the Old City would not have erupted had the Muslims not incited violence.

In addition to summoning Rosen, Judeh sent a letter of protest to the ambassadors of the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council, in which he called on the council to pressure Israel over the matter.

Earlier in the evening, more than 100 Palestinian men, who had refused to leave the Har Habyis despite an Israeli decision made this morning to shut down the site due to security concerns, left the area.

The Palestinian Authority and the Waqf had instructed the men to arrive at the site on Motzoei Shabbos and stay put, fearing what they termed a “Jewish takeover.”

This morning, approximately 150 Arabs hurled rocks and bottles at security forces in the Old City shortly after the decision to shut down the compound was announced.

In the evening, Yerushalayim Magistrate’s Court issued restraining orders against senior Fatah official Hatem Abdel Kader and Islamic Movement official Kamal Khatib, banishing both men from the Old City area for a period of 15 days.

Khatib was arrested in the afternoon on suspicion of fanning the riots. Kader was detained overnight \on suspicion of inciting Muslims to cause disturbances in the Old City by issuing the call.

Kader previously served as the Palestinian Authority’s minister for Yerushalayim affairs after acting as PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad’s adviser on Yerushalayim affairs.

In Gaza, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh commented on the riots, saying that “The Israeli attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque is continuing, they have surrounded the mosque and broken into it.” Speaking at a function in honor of the release of the 20th female Palestinian prisoner, Haniyeh claimed that gun-toting Israeli security forces had forced devout worshipers to leave the compound.

Earlier in the day, Border Police closed off roads around the Old City and dispersed the rioters into the neighborhood of Wadi Joz, where residents briefly joined in the disturbances.

Three rioters were arrested and one border policeman was lightly wounded in the clashes.

Many of the Arab rioters were believed to have traveled to the capital from the North. Palestinians had claimed that police planned to order groups of Jews to daven within close proximity of mosques.

The clashes come two days after the US State Department called on its citizens to avoid the area over Sukkos.

According to police, access to the area was barred following a call made throughout east Yerushalayim to “come and defend” the mount.

Last week, shortly before Yom Kippur, disturbances flared up across east Yerushalayim , beginning when 18 policemen and 15 rioters were hurt during clashes on the Har Habyis, and later elsewhere in the Old City.

A Channel 2 commentator suggested that the riots were not just a reaction to Jewish presence in the compound, but also “induced by fear that Israel would plant false archaeological evidence” to prove that the Bais Hamikdosh existed in Yerushalayim.

Police said some 150 Muslim worshipers participated in last week’s disturbance on the Har Habayis, which began when a group of Jewish visitors entered the compound with a police escort.

The Har Habyis compound will also be shut down tomorrow, when tens of thousands of Yidden are expected to daven at the Kosel. Only Muslim worshipers over the age of 50 will be allowed access to the compound.

{JPost/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}