Police arrested over a dozen right-wing activists in the Old City of Jerusalem Thursday, as they tried to hold an illegal march to the Temple Mount and keep others from reaching the area in two seemingly separate incidents.
Around 6 p.m., dozens of right-wing activists begin an unauthorized procession from downtown Jerusalem toward the Temple Mount, the police said in a statement.
The police commanding officer at the scene called on the marchers to disperse, as the event was taking place illegally. When the marchers refused, five were arrested.
Later, another 10 people were arrested as they formed a human chain at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City to try to keep Muslims from entering the area.
Among those arrested were three women with babies strapped to their bodies who engaged in acts of violence and disturbing the peace in a manner which endangered the children, police said in a statement.
Social welfare authorities were also asked to intervene, police said.
Earlier on Thursday, several dozen Arabs from northern Israel affiliated with the Islamic Movement came to Jerusalem and also planned to march to the Temple Mount. The march wasn’t approved police said, and the participants were returned home.
The incidents took place on Israel’s Independence Day and police said they would continue to prevent any breach of the law or “attempt to undermine the security stability and endanger the public’s peace and security.”
Access to non-Muslim visitors to the site is limited to a few hours on certain days of the week.
The Temple Mount was the site of two Jewish temples in antiquity and it is considered the holiest site in Judaism. Muslims deem the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits atop the mount, their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina.