Temple Mount access restricted for fifth day
Capital quiet despite arrest of Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.
Despite concerns that the arrest of the leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, would spark further unrest, the city was completely quiet yesterday. Still, the police maintained high alert in the Old City, East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem.
Entry to the Temple Mount today, for the fifth day in a row, will be permitted to Muslim men 50 or over and Muslim women of any age. Jews and tourists will not be allowed to enter. The same rules will apparently apply tomorrow, with thousands of Muslims seeking to pray on the Temple Mount and masses of Jews coming to the Western Wall, immediately below the Mount, for the last day of Sukkot.
"This is an event with potential for escalation," a police official said.
The number of Muslims seeking entry to the Temple Mount is expected to swell following a call by Sheikh Yussuf Al-Qaradawi of Egypt, considered one of the Sunni Muslim world's great scholars, to declare Friday a "day of anger."
About 75 people have been arrested since the unrest began in Jerusalem at the beginning of the week, among them 24 minors. Those arrested are suspected of a number of infractions including throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, attacking police and blocking traffic.
Meanwhile, MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and Police Commissioner David Cohen to order an investigation for incitement to racism into the deputy head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Kamel Hatib. The demand came after Hatib told Army Radio: "We want a Muslim to be able to go into his mosque anytime and pray, without some cop from Ethiopia, some cushi, telling him 'you won't go in there.'" Hatib was using a derogatory term for dark-skinned person.
A.T., a Border Police officer of Ethiopian origin who is involved in security on the Temple Mount and the Old City year-round, told Harretz regarding Hatib's remark: "I come to work as a professional and try to neutralize my feelings. I don't believe all Arabs think the way Hatib does." A police official said Hatib's remark "could be said to be spitting in the face."
Hatib told Haaretz yesterday that he did not mean to humiliate a particular policeman. "As one who suffers from racism, I cannot use racist terms against others," he said. "My meaning was clear, that this particular policeman or security man who just came to Israel a few years ago should not tell me and other Muslims who have been the landlords for hundreds of years that they may not enter a mosque, and there is no doubt this is infuriating."
Hatib, who was barred from Jerusalem this week for 14 days, has gone home to Cana in the Galilee, and is continuing his activities with Salah.
Salah told Al-Jazeera in an interview: "I'll decide when I go to Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and not the Israeli occupation forces."
Yesterday morning a delegation from the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee visited the mosque and met with the heads of the Waqf Islamic trust.