Fifteen Palestinians were arrested Wednesday morning, including seven youths ahead of the Jewish New Year after they threw stones and clashed with police on the Temple Mount. Police also stopped several buses carrying some 100 Muslim worshipers from accessing the site on suspicion that they intended to cause disturbances. There were no reports of injuries.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said that he regards such behavior with severity and will not let “radicals” disturb the peace, especially on the High Holidays.
“Lately, we’ve witnessed efforts to incite [against Israel] from the likes of [leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement] Raed Salah and others on the Temple Mount. I see such behavior as very grave and I will not let radical elements disturb the peace, especially on holiday days. Anyone who acts with intent to harm will be arrested by police,” said Aharonovitch.
Tensions have risen around Jerusalem in the days leading up to the Rosh Hashanah holiday.
On Tuesday, Salah was arrested on charges of incitement stemming from a speech he gave in Kafr Qara last week in which he accused Israel of trying to take over the Temple Mount and called on Muslims across Israel to block Jews from entering. He was released Wednesday morning on condition that he stay at least 30 kms away from Jerusalem for the next 180 days.
Salah was quoted as saying Israel was “working to destroy Egypt and the Arab world” and was responsible for a fire at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque 45 years ago set by a tourist.
Over the weekend, Israeli security forces thwarted a plot to set off a bomb at Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem during the holiday. Two East Jerusalem residents, reportedly recruited by Hamas, confessed on Sunday to planning the attack.
Jerusalem District Police have beefed up security around the city, with thousands of police, Border Police and volunteer policemen stationed around the Old City and East Jerusalem. Security for tourist and prayer sites, synagogues and shopping malls was also heightened throughout the city.