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Muslim Temple Mount guard arrested by Israeli police

Waqf staffer Muhannad al-Zaghal detained as part of overnight operation in Jerusalem, released after questioning

Police stand guard as Palestinian Muslim worshipers make their way to the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem for Friday prayers, November 14, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police stand guard as Palestinian Muslim worshipers make their way to the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem for Friday prayers, November 14, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel arrested a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the Jordanian body that oversees the Temple Mount, a police spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

Muhannad al-Zaghal was arrested as part of operations in Jerusalem overnight Monday-Tuesday, according to the Palestinian Ma’an News agency. He was reportedly apprehended at the entrance to the Temple Mount compound’s Chain Gate, where he works as a security guard.

Police said he was detained, questioned and released soon after. They declined to give a reason for his arrest.

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the site of the first and second Jewish temples and home to Islam’s third-holiest shrine, has been at the heart of months of unrest and violence.

Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters erupted last year at the compound amid fears that Israel was planning to change rules governing the site which allows Jews to visit the site but not pray there. Israel has repeatedly denied such plans are in the works.

Current rules governing the site dictated by a five-decade-old status-quo agreement between Israel and the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf allow Jews to visit during set hours but not to pray at the site, for fear of stoking tensions.

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