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Amid fear of further unrest, Temple Mount said closed to Jews indefinitely

But holy Jerusalem site reportedly to open on Jerusalem Day; move comes after tense weeks in the capital and around its Old City as Muslims celebrate holy month of Ramadan

Border Police officers stand guard next to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, July 27, 2017. (AP /Mahmoud Illean)
Border Police officers stand guard next to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, July 27, 2017. (AP /Mahmoud Illean)

Fearing fresh outbreaks of violence in Jerusalem, police have closed the Temple Mount to Jews until further notice, Hebrew media reported Tuesday.

The move comes as Muslims celebrate the month-long Ramadan holiday, which often sees increased tensions around the Old City and the Temple Mount site, including this year.

Police were said to have informed Jewish groups organizing Temple Mount visits of the closure.

However, according to the reports, Jews will be allowed into the site on Jerusalem Day next Monday.

The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism, as the site of the biblical Temples. It is the site of the third holiest shrine in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel captured the Temple Mount and Jerusalem’s Old City in the 1967 Six Day War, and extended sovereignty throughout Jerusalem. However, it allowed the Jordanian Waqf to continue to maintain religious authority atop the mount, where Jews are allowed to visit under numerous restrictions, but not to pray.

The Palestinian leadership has a long history of attempting to rally its public in response to alleged Israeli infringements on Muslim sovereignty in the flashpoint compound. Official Palestinian Authority media often shows visits by religious Jews to the site, which it deems “settler invasions.”

Police officers escort a group of religious Jews at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, June 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Tensions in Jerusalem, specifically around the Old City, reached the boiling point last month after police prevented people from congregating outside Damascus Gate at the start of Ramadan, which Arabs said was an inflammatory move that obstructed a long-held tradition of gathering at the site during the Muslim holy month. Authorities later canceled the policy.

Additionally, hundreds of Palestinians have marched toward Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank on a nightly basis over the past week, leading to clashes.

The IDF is said to have also bolstered its forces in the West Bank during Ramadan.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced last week that the first Palestinian national elections in 15 years would be indefinitely delayed, amid escalating tensions in the region.

The delay was pinned on Israel refusing to allow East Jerusalemites to vote in the election. While Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, Israel views the entire city as its undivided capital and views any PA activity in East Jerusalem as a violation of its sovereignty.

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