Once again, on the eve of a major Jewish holiday, Israel Police have closed access for Jews and Christians to the Temple Mount due to intelligence “there would be disturbances” if Jews were allowed to ascend to the site.
Hundreds of tourists who flocked to the site on Monday were turned away due to violence spawned by Muslim rioters the previous day.
Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told The Jewish Press in a telephone interview Monday morning, “Police officials made the decision to close access to the site based on information there would be disturbances similar to those that occurred yesterday, and which caused injuries to two police officers. As a result, access to the site was restricted solely to Muslim men age 50 and above, and to Muslim women of all ages.”
Asked whether Muslim women had never caused any disturbances at the Temple Mount – which they have on numerous occasions — Rosenfeld responded: “Muslim women do not pose any problem for Israel Police. It is Muslim men under age 50 who are the most dangerous to the general population and to police officers during disturbances at the site.”
On Sunday police closed the Temple Mount to visitors — but not to Muslim worshipers — after Muslim rioters hurled rocks and firebombs (Molotov cocktails) at police officers posted at the Mughrabi Gate near the Western Wall Plaza.
Two Israel Police officers were injured in the riot which started when the site was opened to visitors.
Rosenfeld claimed he had “no idea what [you] are talking about” when asked about a report posted on the Arutz Sheva website describing a virtual takeover of the Temple Mount by “dozens of Hamas men… waving Hamas flags and ‘not allowing Jews and tourists into the Mount.’
The site has always been a flash point of contention between Jews and Muslims. There is no holier site in the Jewish faith, and it ranks third in importance in Islam.
The Temple Mount encompasses the Western Wall – the last remnant of the Holy Temple, the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount. It is the wall that was the closest to the Holy of Holies when the Holy Temple once stood in Jerusalem.
In Judaism, the Temple Mount is also known as Mount Moriah, which according to Jewish tradition is the place where the creation of the world began from the Foundation Stone at the peak of the mountain, and is where Adam, the first human being, was created.
It is also the site where the Biblical patriarch Abraham was commanded to prepare his son Isaac for sacrifice, (by the way, the Muslims believe it is Ishmael who was nearly sacrificed) and where the binding of Isaac – the Foundation Stone – took place. The Holy of Holies, around which both the First and Second Holy Temples were built, is set around the Foundation Stone.
Known to the Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, the Temple Mount site is believed to be that from which Islam’s prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven to speak with God about the details of prayer rituals after a night-long journey to Jerusalem, “the farthest mosque,” on his steed Buraq. For this reason, Islamists fight with particular ferocity over the site and do what they can to claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
Israel’s willingness to allow the Islamic Waqf Authority to administer the site has backfired dozens of times as increasing violence by Islamist extremists on the eve of every Jewish holiday makes it clear it is impossible for the status quo to continue.
A similar scenario was deliberately used by Hamas to ignite the Second Intifada in the year 2000 when MK Ariel Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount just prior to the Jewish new year holidays, setting off violent Muslim riots and sparking a lethal police response. It seems likely that plans are afoot to recreate the same scenario again.
Hana Levi Julian