Police were forced to intervene Wednesday morning when Muslim women blocked Jewish tourists from reaching the Temple Mount, and ultimately the situation led to closure of the site for several hours.
Several Jewish groups were touring the area, according to Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld, who told Arutz Sheva the Muslim women blocked the tourists and refused to allow them access to the site. Police were escorting each Jewish group, he added, to ensure their safety, and security officers immediately intervened to stop the confrontation.
However, a number of Arab men then arrived at the scene where the Al Aqsa mosque is also located, and joined the Muslim women's efforts to block the tourists.
As a precaution, police closed the site for a short period of time, Rosenfeld said, adding that the site was expected to reopen at midday, assuming there were no further problems.
“Police are assessing the situation after the two incidents that occurred this week,” Rosenfeld told Arutz Sheva.
The incident marked the second time this week that Muslim women have succeeded in preventing Jews from accessing the holiest site in the Jewish faith.
Muslim worshipers also succeeded in forcing police to close the Temple Mount plaza this past Sunday due to a similar incident.
Former Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon told Arutz Sheva that he spent a long and unpleasant wait to reach the holy area, only to be told it was closed due to “tensions.”
There has been a long history of closing the Temple Mount plaza in the face of Arab anger against Jews on the site, which Muslim worshipers at the mosque often use as an excuse for violence and rioting, particularly after inflammatory Friday sermons.
A visit by then-Opposition leader MK Ariel Sharon in the year 2000 served as the excuse by PLO/Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to launch the Second Intifada (public uprising), also referred to in Israel as the Oslo War.
Israel’s military is training at present for the possibility that the PA may soon launch a formal Third Intifada, a source said, although Israeli security officials have said they believe the Palestinian Authority is not interested in escalating the situation prior to the upcoming visit of U.S. President Barack Obama, slated to arrive in Israel on March 20.
IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai called on media to show “responsibility and caution” when referring to PA Arab violence as an “intifada on the way.”
In a statement last week, Mordechai said, “For the past few weeks, I have been hearing declarations about an intifada that has supposedly broken out in Judea and Samaria. The power of prophesy was given to fools, and I do not know what the new day will bring,” he wrote in a post on his Facebook page.
“But aren’t some responsibility and caution required when making premature declarations of an intifada?”