Police officers on Tuesday evening arrested six Muslim visitors at the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem after they disrupted public order and shouted “nationalist chants” at them, officials said.
“Israel Police will not allow the disruption of public order inside the Temple Mount, and will act to prevent any rioting or nationalist chants,” police said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Hebrew media reports said five people were arrested at the flashpoint compound for disturbing the peace. It did not give more details.
According to religious site Srugim, several dozen Jews visited the compound throughout the day to mark the Tenth of Tevet, a fast day to mark the siege of Jerusalem by Babylon that led to the destruction of the First Temple.
The site is the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest for Muslims, who refer to it as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary.
It has been the scene of intermittent clashes between Muslim worshipers and police.
As part of an arrangement in place since the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan, non-Muslims are barred from praying at the Temple Mount.
Under the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries, Israel recognizes Jordan as the custodian of the Temple Mount and Jerusalem holy sites.
Some Jewish activists have pushed for Israel to allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount as part of the country’s commitment to freedom of religion.
But any talk or even rumors of changes to the status quo arrangement at the holy site are typically met with vociferous protest from the Muslim world, which has accused Israel of attempting to “judaize” the site or expand access for Jewish pilgrims.