Police have “lost control of the Temple Mount,” Temple activists charged Monday morning, on the eve of Pesach.
Dozens of Hamas men have taken over the Mount, waving Hamas flags, and are "not allowing Jews and tourists into the Mount," said the activists.
“Hundreds of Jews who came to the Temple Mount for Pesach were astonished to find a police representative standing at the entrance gate and announcing that the Mount had been closed off to Jews after Hamas had taken over the Mount and threatened violence against any Jews who enter,” the Temple organizations reported in a news communique.
The Temple organizations called for the police commissioner to resign, following his failures on the Temple Mount.
“Time after time, the police abandon the Mount to hostile hands – especially on Jewish holidays," they charged. "Then the same commanders come to the Knesset and the Interior Committee, and lie that the Mount was open.”
The latest incident comes just one day after Hamas-linked Islamists rioted on the Temple Mount, preventing Jewish visitors from ascending Judaism's holiest site.
In response, police banned Jews from the site - prompting Temple Mount activists to accuse authorities of essentially collaborating with Muslim extremists to prevent Jews from visiting the Mount. The Temple activists say that about 20 Hamas men stayed in the compound overnight and that the police have allowed them to do so.
Israeli police on Monday announced that Muslim access to the Temple Mount would be curtailed. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that only men aged 50 and over would be allowed to pray. There is no age limit on women's participation, however, he told AFP.
"It's a precaution that has been taken after a security assessment of the possibility of disturbances," the spokesman added.
Despite being the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount is administered by the Islamic Waqf foundation, and Jewish visits are subject to strict restrictions including a blanket ban on prayers or other forms of worship, under pain of arrest.
Jewish groups have long condemned the discrimination as a surrender to Muslim extremism; a new bill proposed by the Jewish Home party is currently being debated to grant equal prayer rights to Jews and Muslims on the Mount.