Minor clashes broke out between Muslim worshipers and Israeli police on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Tuesday after two Jewish men who entered the contested holy site bowed down in prayer, violating rules of entry to the compound. They were set upon by Muslims at the site and were immediately escorted away by police.
A brawl ensued between police and Muslims. There were no immediate reports of injuries in the clashes.
A total of eight Jewish visitors were removed by Israel Police officers from the Temple Mount on Tuesday morning for violating an Israeli ban on Jewish prayer on the flashpoint holy site, considered the holiest in Judaism, and the third holiest in Islam.
It is forbidden for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, which is known by Muslims as the Al-Aqsa compound, according to a 1967 Knesset ministerial committee decision. Though heavily contested by right-wing activist groups, this rule has been upheld by courts.
Those found doing so are ejected from the site, and frequent violators of this rule can be issued restraining orders from the Temple Mount.
The eight men were not arrested, but were instead taken away from the site. It wasn’t clear whether any of the Muslim men who clashed with police were arrested, a police spokesperson said.
A video from the incident uploaded by a Palestinian news site on social media showed two young Jewish men prostrating themselves on the ground on the Temple Mount, surrounded by police, at the moment when the skirmish began.
During the clash, Muslim worshipers could be heard chanting in Arabic, “God is great” and “With blood we will redeem Al-Aqsa.”
Israeli security forces beefed up their presence around the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount compound ahead of this week’s Passover holiday to prevent violence.
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.