A right-wing Knesset member attempted to enter the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem Thursday morning, a day after a prominent activist for Jewish prayer on the holy site was shot in an apparent assassination attempt.
MK Moshe Feiglin made it to the entrance but was prevented from entering the compound, as police closed the site to all visitors except a small number of Muslim worshipers amid swirling tensions in the capital.
The mostly symbolic visit by Feiglin came about an hour after police killed the suspected shooter of Rabbi Yehudah Glick in a shootout in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor.
“I am saying to you that at this moment, members of the Waqf are on the Temple Mount,” Feiglin, a Likud MK and friend of Glick’s, told reporters. “The assailant achieved his goal — keeping Jewish worshipers from the Temple Mount.”
He was joined by other right-wing activists at the site. Feiglin had called for an en masse march on the Temple Mount as a response to the shooting attack on Glick, who remained in the hospital in serious but stable condition Thursday.
“The scene of Muslims praying on the Mount while I, a representative of the sovereign power, a member of the Knesset, am prevented from going up to the Mount, is the victory picture for the shooter and those who sent him,” he wrote on his Facebook page at 8:30 a.m.
“I am here at this moment at the gate to the Mount, demanding that Prime Minister Netanyahu change the picture. Today, the mount needs to be open only to Jews.”
Under current rules, Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, considered their religion’s holiest place. Lawmakers have called for increased Jewish access to the site, while Palestinians officials have called to “defend” the area, which holds the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque.
Glick, an American immigrant to Israel, is currently head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, and he worked in the past as the executive director of the Temple Institute, an organization that prepares vessels and garments for a future Jewish temple.
In his work with the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, he has endeavored to raise Jewish consciousness about the centrality of the Temple Mount to Jewish tradition, and to encourage Jews to go up to the Temple Mount “according to halacha [Jewish law].”
The shooting outside a conference center Wednesday night raised already heightened tensions in the capital, which has seen near daily rock throwing incidents in Arab neighborhoods and a large police crackdown on the unrest.
Police barred access to the Temple Mount for Muslim and Jewish worshipers and visitors and were on high alert in the city after the shooting, bracing for violence and revenge attacks.
On Thursday morning, a police anti-terror unit raided a home in Abu Tor, killing a man they said was responsible for Glick’s shooting.
According to the police, counter-terrorism officers arrived at the suspect’s house and attempted to arrest him when they came under fire. They returned fire and confirmed they killed the suspect.
The shooting came amid weeks of rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem. Last week a Palestinian man drove a car into a crowded train platform located along the seam separating East and West Jerusalem, killing two. In the days following, Palestinians have clashed continuously with Israeli police in Arab neighborhoods of the capital. Israel responded to the rise in violence by increasing its police presence, deploying an additional 1,000 officers to the city.
Following the incident, right-wing lawmakers called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a tougher stance in the capital.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, from the Jewish Home party, demanded that Netanyahu return “Israeli sovereignty to Jerusalem.”
“Security is delivered through actions, not talk. An attack in the heart of Jerusalem is a red line.” he said.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), a proponent of a Jewish presence in east Jerusalem, said that the bullets fired at Glick “were aimed at all Jews who wish to pray on the Temple Mount.”
Ariel also called on Netanyahu to open the site to Jewish worshipers, as did the party’s MK Ayelet Shaked.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.