For Second Time This Week, Protests Against Israel's Temple Mount Moves in Front of Istanbul Synagogue

Over two dozen men protest the situation at the Temple Mount in front of one of Turkey's oldest synagogues

A Turkish police officer stands guard in front of Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey, March 29, 2016.
Osman Orsal, Reuters

For the second time in less than a week, protesters demonstrated outside a synagogue in Istanbul over Israel’s decision to put up metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount.

The latest incident reported in the Turkish media occurred Saturday outside the Ahrida Synagogue on the European side of the Turkish capital, in the north of the Fatih neighborhood, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements in Turkey.

Responding to the Turkish Jewish community’s protests, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a statement to the media Sunday that while “limiting Muslims’ access to Al-Aqsa Mosque for whatever reason is an unacceptable mistake that Turkey expects Israel to undo immediately,” the Turkish government “does not agree with actions outside places of worship of Jewish citizens.”

Yildirim said the government “expects on all citizens exercise self restraint.” The short statement did not say what would happen to those who do live up to the government’s expectation.

Israel installed the security devices at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, at the site the Muslims call Haram al Sharif, in response to a July 14 terrorist attack near the Al-Aqsa mosque that killed two Israeli police officers.

Pedestrians cross the Eminonu bridge in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey, December 23, 2015.
Kerem Uzel/Bloomberg

At the Ahrida Synagogue, which is one of the country’s oldest, at least 29 men gathered carrying signs with anti-Israel slogans and a cardboard structure meant to symbolize an X-ray machine, the Haberler news website reported.

On Thursday, protesters showed up at the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul , where they kicked the front door and hurled objects at it. Leaders of Turkish Jews condemned the targeting of synagogues to protest Israel’s actions. Following the July 14 attack, Israel temporarily limited access to the Temple Mount for men under 50 and placed metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site.

Synagogues, which have been targeted by Islamists and other terrorists in Turkey in the past, are heavily guarded in Istanbul by police. To enter Istanbul’s main synagogues, including Neve Shalom, visitors must obtain the permission of the Jewish community prior to arriving there. The fact that demonstrators were able to gather outside the synagogues and stage protests there is highly unusual for Istanbul.

In the aftermath of the officers’ slaying, in which the three Arab-Israeli terrorists were shot dead by police, several Palestinians died in riots over the past week and three Jews were murdered in the West Bank settlement of Halamish inside their home by a Palestinian terrorist.

On Sunday, a security officer at the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, killed a man that Israel’s Foreign Ministry said had come to carry out a terrorist attack at the compound. Approximately 30 people were besieged in the embassy on Monday due to the Jordanian authorities’ desire to detain and question embassy staff, who have diplomatic immunity under international treaties.