Israeli Police Chief in Jerusalem, Ilan Frenco, decided Tuesday not to allow members of the ‘Temple Mount Faithful’ group to enter the Aqsa Mosque plaza (Temple Mount) to hold a ceremony of the Tisha B’Av day, Israeli news paper Haaretz reported.
Tisha B’Av is the ninth of the Hebrew month of ‘Av’ which coincides today in the Hebrew calendar. This day, according to the Jewish tradition is the date of the destruction of both the first and the second Temples.
It began at sundown Monday and ends at sundown Tuesday.
The group submitted a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice asking to be allowed to hold the ceremony on the plaza.
The Court said the temple mount has been open to all Jewish visitors with no distinction to the Temple Mount Faithful members. The court decided to leave the final decision to the police.
Under an agreement with the Waqf Islamic Trust, (The body responsible for the Islamic holy sites in the Holy Land), non-Muslims can tour the site, as long as they do not conduct public ceremonies, such as those intended by the Temple Mount Faithful, who want to rebuild the Temple. Traditionally, the police have denied the group entry to the plaza.
However, on various past occasions, some of the group members managed to enter the plaza and riots erupted as a result.
The Police estimated 8,000 worshippers congregated at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City for prayer services Monday night, and security forces were bolstered at the Wall on Tuesday in expectation of additional worshippers.
Sheikh Nasser Nofal chair of the Waqf Islamic Trust told IMEMC, ‘This is a systematic thing. The Israeli government is trying to deviate attention away from the Wall issue in light of the International Court of Justice ruling’
‘Israel has been excavating the Jerusalem area since 1967 and has not found enough evidence that the Temple was built on that spot. Had they found something, they would not have waited one second to rebuild it,’ Nofal said.
An Israeli intelligence report revealed threats that might endanger the Aqsa Mosque by some extremist Jewish groups.
Dr. Ikrimeh Sabri, Sheikh of Jerusalem and Chair of the High Islamic Commission, warned against attacks against Moslems and Islamic holy sites, making special reference to the possible attack on the Aqsa Mosque by Jewish Extremists.
In a leaflet he issued, Sabri held the Israeli government responsible for the results of any assault or attempted attacks against the Islamic Holy Places.
‘If the Occupation Authorities are not happy with the extremist Jews, as they claim, they have to tackle this issue outside of the Blessed Aqsa Yards and take the required measures against those fanatics,’ said Sabri. ‘We will not allow for these threats to be used against us to impose Israeli control over the Holy Mosque,’ Sabri added.
Sabri called upon the Arab and Islamic countries to help protect and defend the Aqsa Mosque, which is one of the three most sacred sites in the world.
He said that the guards of the Aqsa Mosque are ready to defend the mosque even if this costs them their lives, and called all the Palestinians to pray in the Aqsa Mosque and stay there to protect it.
Sabri’s comments came after repots about possible attacks at the Mosque to destroy it by blowing it up.
The chief of homeland security in Israel (Shin Bet), Tzahi Hanegbi had expressed serious concerns about possible attacks on the Mosque by some Israeli right wing groups.
Israeli security sources said possible actions include crashing a drone plane packed with explosives into the mosque area. Other possibilities include an attempt by right-wing extremists to assassinate a prominent Jerusalem Muslim leader, perhaps from the Waqf Islamic Trust.
Israeli security sources speculate that the aim of such an attack would be to spark violent confrontations in the Palestinian territories. This is not, however, the first time that a threat to the Mosque has been used with the intent of provoking a Palestinian response; in September 2000 Ariel Sharon made his famous visit to the Aqsa Mosque area with around 3000 soldiers and policemen which led to the outbreak of the second Intifada, later called as the ‘Aqsa Intifada.’
Even when security officials did not reveal specific information on the issue, nine months ago a suspect in a Jewish underground terror group, Shahar Dvir-Zeliger, told authorities a prominent West Bank settler activist together with two West Bank settlers planned a Haram Al-Sharif attack.
Israeli Arab Moslem leaders repeatedly warned that Haram Al-Sharif was endangered, but most of them were accused of inciting violence.