Palestinian protesters are planning for more violence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Monday, stockpiling rocks inside the al-Aqsa Mosque at the site after a morning of clashes, new images indicated Sunday.
The photographs, which Channel 2 television said Sunday night were released by Palestinians and obtained by Jerusalem district police, show lines and heaps of masonry inside the mosque, hours after rioters clashed with police as Muslims marked the end of Eid al-Fitr and Jews prepared to celebrate the festival of Sukkot.
According to Channel 2, the stones were prepared in advance of Monday’s return of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, after they were banned from entering Sunday in an effort to maintain the recent calm after days of riots. Some religious Jews traditionally ascend to the site, considered the holiest in Judaism, during the week-long Sukkot holiday that began Sunday evening.
The discovery of the images led Jerusalem police chief Moshe Edri on Sunday evening to impose an indefinite ban on male Muslim worshipers under the age of 50 from entering the site, the TV report said.
The Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site and the third holiest site in Islam, has seen altercations between Israeli police and Palestinians in recent weeks, sparking widespread unrest in and around the capital.
Police had restricted access to some Muslim worshipers following the days of violence, but later eased the order due to the ensuing calm. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had instructed police to allow Israeli Muslim worshipers unfettered access on Sunday, while West Bank Palestinian men under 35 remained banned.
But dozens of masked Palestinians hurled rocks and firecrackers at Israeli police at the site on Sunday morning. There were no reports of injuries, and officers used riot dispersal means to break up the riot.
Jerusalem police on Sunday afternoon accused Arab Israeli lawmakers of failing to calm tensions at the site. In a statement on the violence, the police urged the Knesset members to act responsibly and work to restore the calm.