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Police chief tours tense Temple Mount as Jewish visits resume for Rosh Hashanah

1 arrested at compound during Yaakov Shabtai’s visit to Old City, day after clashes between cops and Palestinians at flashpoint holy site and across East Jerusalem

In this handout photo, Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov "Kobi" Shabtai (L) speaks with Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman (R) on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, September 27, 2022. (Israel Police)
In this handout photo, Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov "Kobi" Shabtai (L) speaks with Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman (R) on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, September 27, 2022. (Israel Police)

Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov “Kobi” Shabtai on Tuesday toured the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City amid heightened tensions over the flashpoint holy site during the Jewish High Holidays.

Images showed Shabtai, Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman and other policemen on the Temple Mount as Jewish visits to the compound resumed on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, after scuffles between officers and Palestinians there and elsewhere in the Old City the previous day.

According to police, there were no “irregular disruptions” during Tuesday’s visits.

“However, a number of masked youths inside the [Al-Aqsa] mosque chanted incitement and tried to carry out provocations there,” a police statement said.

Police accused the masked suspects of “desecrating” Al-Aqsa, releasing a video showing one of them banging a wooden object against a door to the mosque and a column, as well as playing soccer outside with some of the others.

Officers arrested a member of the group, an 18-year-old East Jerusalem resident, for suspected incitement. Police said a man in his 40s from central Israel was separately arrested on suspicion of incitement in a TikTok video.

“So far the incidents in Jerusalem have been contained,” Shabtai said. “We are ready for any scenario.”

Police said that while touring the Temple Mount and the rest of the Old City, Shabtai was briefed on the force’s “enhanced deployment” in Jerusalem and elsewhere over the High Holidays.

The presence of Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount is opposed by Palestinians and Hamas has warned of violent “repercussions” over visits during the High Holidays — which began Sunday evening and run into mid-October — when the number of Jews who tour the site typically rises.

The Gaza-ruling terror group regularly describes itself as the primary force defending the Temple Mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, against Israel.

The hilltop compound has long been the focus of tensions, but Palestinians have voiced increasing anger at the rising number of visits by Jews, which according to an activist group nearly doubled to a record high of over 50,000 during the past year.

Jews visit the Temple Mount on Erev Rosh Hashanah, September 25, 2022. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is revered as the location of both ancient Jewish temples. The compound is Islam’s third holiest site and is managed by Jordan — whom Israel captured the Old City and rest of East Jerusalem from in the 1967 Six Day War — as part of a delicate arrangement with the Jewish state.

Shabtai’s visit Tuesday also came after a second straight night of clashes between police and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, while Israeli forces remained on high alert in the West Bank as part of a months-long anti-terror campaign.

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