Photo Credit: Hadas Parush / Flash 90
The Dome of the Rock at the Al Aqsa Compound, known to Muslims as the Haram al Sharif, and to Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City

A gate to the Temple Mount closed by Jerusalem Police since 2003 became the focal point of clashes on Monday between police and dozens of Muslim worshipers who tried to force their way in through the Golden Gate — also known as the Gate of Mercy — just a week after a similar attempt succeeded, prompting police to chain the gate shut.

The rioters were aided an abetted by officials from the Islamic Waqf Authority, the Islamic Religious Authority that manages the Temple Mount compound as well as other Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem.

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Five Arab residents of Jerusalem were arrested during the incident, which was used by the Palestinian Authority and Jordan to launch a new campaign of feigned outrage over false claims that Israel is planning to turn the area adjacent to the gate into a prayer site for Jews.

Read: Arab Rioters Arrested on Temple Mount

Arab affairs investigative reporter Khaled Abu Toameh reported in The Jerusalem Post on Monday night that the site has a history of conflict.

It once housed the offices of the Islamic Heritage Committee and in 2003 police closed the gate for alleged involvement in political activities, Toameh reported; it was subsequently locked under court order in 2017.

Palestinian Authority religious affairs adviser to Abbas Mahmoud Habbash called the Jerusalem Police action an “assault” on the site, and a “war on Islam.” He warned that Israel was “playing with fire” and that Palestinian Authority Arabs will defend the “precious and blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Likewise, Jordan has protested to Israel as well, claiming the longtime closure of the area constitutes a “flagrant violation of the historical and legal status quo and Israel’s obligation under the international law and humanitarian law.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.