Tourists are barred from a Jerusalem holy site on Palestinians’ ‘Day of Rage’


dpa

TEL AVIV — Israeli police closed off a holy site in Jerusalem to tourists and non-Muslim visitors on Wednesday, on what Palestinians are calling a “Day of Rage” following the introduction of heightened security checks for Muslims there.

Jewish visitors were removed from the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and Jews as the Temple Mount, after breaking the rules in place there, police said.

Tensions have been running high since the introduction of additional checks Sunday, after two Israeli police officers were killed at the site in a terrorist attack last week.

Fourteen Palestinians and two police officers were injured in clashes late Tuesday, the third day of violence in a row.

One Palestinian was seriously injured after being hit by a rubber bullet, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Police said they had been attacked by protesters armed with stones and Molotov cocktails.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party had called for the “Day of Rage” and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements also called for protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the new security measures, which include metal detectors and turnstiles at the entrance to the site.

Fifty Palestinians were injured in night-time clashes from Monday to Tuesday.

Jerusalem Grand Mufti Mohammed Ahmed Hussein has criticized the new measures as altering the status quo, which gives Muslims religious control over the site and permits Jews to visit but not pray there.

The Palestinians fear Israel is trying to retake control of the site by stealth, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed on Friday that he had no intention of altering the status quo.

The site is sacred to both religions, as it houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine, Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, but also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple.

Questions about control of the site have frequently led to violent flare-ups between Israelis and Palestinians in the past.