Police scuffle with worshipers at entrance to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on first night of Ramadan

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

While thousands of Muslims enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray on the first night of the holy month of Ramadan, a video circulating on social media shows Israeli Border Police officers assailing worshipers with batons at the entrance to the Haram al-Sharif holy site, known to Jews as Temple Mount.

In response to the video, Israel Police says it is working to “enable freedom of worship on the Temple Mount while at the same time ensuring safety and security, in accordance with instructions given by the political leadership.”

It is not exactly clear what those instructions are.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged last week that the number of worshipers allowed to pray on the Temple Mount in the first week of Ramadan would be the same as in previous years and that no restrictions would be imposed on Israeli Arabs, overruling a previous decision by ultranationalist firebrand National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who oversees the Israel Police.

Most of the Arab population of Jerusalem, however, does not hold Israeli citizenship, and can therefore be subject to stricter limitations.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai was reportedly looking to limit attendance “in the initial stage” of Ramadan, adding that younger Arabs, whether Israeli or from East Jerusalem, are the main “agitators” and should therefore be barred.

Photos and videos filmed tonight and shared on X show groups of young Muslim men who were refused access to the Al-Aqsa compound praying in the alleys leading to it, and outside the walls of the Old City.

Most Popular