Israeli Police arrested 15 Palestinians on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem who waved Hamas flags and hung a sign featuring images of terrorists on Wednesday. The sign and flags were unfurled at the end of morning prayers marking the holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Morning prayers proceeded without incident. As the crowd of tens of thousands was dispersing, a number of masked individuals began waving the green flags of Hamas and unfurled the banner on the Temple Mount plaza.
Police arrested 15 people and removed the poster. Authorities seized the flags, as well as Hamas flyers, and a bullet.
“The police officers of the Jerusalem District are obliged to allow every person of any religion to celebrate their holidays according to the law, as well as during the days of the Eid al-Adha that began today. This morning there were again those who took advantage of the holiday and the holy places for a demonstration of incitement and support for terrorism,” said Police Jerusalem Superintendent Doron Turgeman.
“Whoever thinks that committing such illegal acts under the cover of the holiday will give him immunity or protection from the law – is very wrong. So far we have arrested 15 suspects who were involved in waving flags, chanting in favor of terrorism and hanging the banner of a terrorist organization. Acts of incitement, encouragement and support for terrorism will be dealt with decisively by us everywhere in Jerusalem, including inside the Temple Mount,” Turgeman added.
The delicate status quo governing the Temple Mount goes back to 1967, when Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six-Day War. Fearing a religious war, then-defense minister Moshe Dayan agreed to let the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trusteeship, continue managing the holy site’s day-to-day affairs, while Israel would maintain overall sovereignty and be responsible for security. The Waqf is overseen by Jordan.
Neither the Waqf nor Jordan commented on this morning’s incident.
According to the status quo, Jews and non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Temple Mount, but not pray there.
The Temple Mount, where the First and Second Jewish Temples were built, is the overall holiest site in Judaism. The Western Wall is the only remnant of a retaining wall encircling the Temple Mount built by Herod the Great in the first century and is the holiest site where Jews can freely pray.
Rabbis are increasingly divided over Jews ascending to the Temple Mount. For centuries, the widespread rabbinic consensus was that the laws of ritual purity still apply to the site. But in recent years, a growing number of rabbis have argued that ritual purity laws don’t apply to all sections of the Temple Mount and encourage visits to permitted areas to maintain Jewish connections to the Mount.
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