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Police Close Temple Mount to Jews, Shorten Minister's Visit

Housing Minister Uri Ariel almost turned away due to Muslim rioting. Ariel: 'This is unacceptable.'
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 3/16/2014, 4:09 PM

Israeli policeman on on Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa Mosque
Israeli policeman on on Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa Mosque
Flash 90

Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) ascended to the Temple Mount on Sunday, in a visit previously coordinated with security forces, despite numerous attempts by Israel Police forces to stop him.

Police prevented visitors from ascending to Judaism's holiest site on Sunday after local Muslims rioted at the site earlier Sunday. While Ariel eventually was allowed to complete the visit, his stay was still cut short at the request of local authorities.

Dozens of Arab Mulsims threw rocks and firecrackers at police, who used riot dispersal gear in response. One young Muslim rioter was lightly wounded and evacuated.

"A reality in which rioters determine the day's agenda on the Temple Mount, and prevent Jewish visitors from ascending [to the Mount], is unacceptable," Ariel stated after the visit.

"I went up to the Mount this morning, I intend to keep on doing so in the future, and I demand that security forces help keep Jewish sovereignty intact and allow any Jew to ascend to the Mount freely."

The Temple Mount is Judaism's most sacred spot. Israeli police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the Temple Mount compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship.

Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots - for days or weeks at a time - despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.