Old City of Jerusalem
Old City of JerusalemIsrael news photo: Hana Levi Julian

A senior Muslim cleric denounced on Monday the incident in which Jews prayed and sang Israel's national anthem "Hatikva" on the Temple Mount, and warned that this incident was further proof that Israel was planning to “destroy” the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The 10 Jews in question were arrested by Jerusalem police. Following their arrest police closed the site to non-Muslim visitors.

Sheikh Yusuf Adeis said in an interview on a Palestinian Authority-based news website that the entrance of “extremist” Jews to the Temple Mount and their waving the Israeli flag was a “heinous crime”.

Speaking to shfanews, Adeis said that Jewish entry to the Temple Mount was “a violation of all treaties” and was part of the “occupation forces'” plan to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The mosque, he claimed, was crying out for Muslim and Arab help, calling on Arab and Islamic countries to not only send messages of support and condemnation, but also take practical action.

He warned that the Al-Aqsa mosque was in danger, adding that the day on which Muslims will wake up from their sleep and find the mosque gone is inching closer.

Adeis called on all Arab residents of the region to come to Al-Aqsa in order to strengthen the Muslim presence on the compound. He stressed that the Al-Aqsa mosque belongs only to Muslims and Jews have no right to it whatsoever.

The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site and the location of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem, the latter of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70CE.

Despite that fact, Jewish visitors face severe restrictions upon ascending the Mount, including a blanket ban on praying or on performing any other form of worship, as well as restrictions on the size of groups which can ascend. Those who violate the restrictions face arrest and a prolonged ban from ascending altogether.

Numerous court rulings have stipulated that Jews must be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount as a basic right to freedom of religion. Nevertheless, the Israeli police force has repeatedly ignored the rulings, citing unspecified "security concerns" as a pretext to continue enforcing the ban.

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. Prominent Israeli MKs, such as Moshe Feiglin and Zeev Elkin, have been forced to leave the Temple Mount due to fears of violence.

Arabs continuously accuse Israel of "Judaizing" the Temple Mount, sometimes resorting to ridiculous propaganda such as accusing Israel of using chemicals to erode the foundations of the mosque in order to cause it to collapse.

At the same time the Waqf, which was left in charge of the Temple Mount after Israel liberated it during the 1967 Six Day War, consistently destroys Jewish antiquities on the compound in a direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.