Two Days After Cease-fire, Israel Opens Temple Mount to Jews

Jews were barred from entering the holy compound – where the Al-Aqsa mosque is also located – since the beginning of Ramadan on April 12, amid the spike in Jewish-Arab violence in Israel

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Jewish visitors in the Temple Mount complex, today.
Jewish visitors in the Temple Mount complex, today.Credit: Or Nehamia Aharonov

Israel allowed on Sunday Jewish visitors to enter Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound for the first time in 19 days and amid tensions in Jerusalem.

The police escorted more than 120 Jewish visitors to the flashpoint holy site, according to the Islamic authority overseeing the site.

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The Waqf said police cleared young Palestinians out of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and barred entry to Muslims under the age of 45.

Muslims who entered were required to leave their IDs with police at the entrance. It said six Palestinians were detained, with four later released.

Israeli police denied there was any age restriction and said they arrested five suspects who “violated the public order," where spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said the site was open for “regular visits” and that police had secured the area to prevent “incidents."

Jews were barred from entering the compound – where the Al-Aqsa mosque is also located – since the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan which began on April 12, amid an uptick in Jewish-Arab violence. This was the longest ban on Jewish worshippers since the compound was reopened in 2003 after the second intifada.

Israel's decision to forbid Jews from entering the Temple Mount even after Ramadan ended was based on fears emanating from the Israeli government and the Shin Bet security service that the move could reignite Jewish-Arab violence.  

On Saturday, ultra-Orthodox lawmaker Moshe Gafni called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to allow Jews in Temple Mount citing religious motives while lawmakers from the right-wing Religious Zionism, and Gideon Sa'ar's New Hope urged to open the compound.

On Friday, Israeli police beefed up their forces on Jerusalem's Temple Mount as Palestinians spread messages on social media to protest there after Friday prayers and the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that ended 11 days of fighting.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians took part in Friday noon prayers on the Mount; while most left the compound quietly, some waved Palestinian flags. Half an hour after the prayers ended, a small police force entered the compound to confiscate the flags and disperse the crowd.

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