Police detained and questioned 13 men in total today on the Temple Mount after two separate incidents of civil disobedience, the Jerusalem Post reports:
According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the first incident involved three men who laid on the ground to protest police restrictions of open prayer among Jews at the holiest site in Judaism – located adjacent to al-Aksa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.
As the three were taken into police custody, Rosenfeld said a group of 10 men from another group began waving Israeli flags, praying and singing the national anthem, resulting in their detention, and the temporary closure of the site.
While Jewish prayer is technically legal at the Temple Mount, controversy has ensued recently over the part of the Supreme Court’s ruling that allows for police to shut down any prayer they think may cause a disturbance to the peace. Since the area is a holy site for Jews and Muslims, that distinction is rather tenuous, and nearly any action can be seen as a provocation.
That heightened volatility was referenced in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent threat to appeal to the United Nations Security Council regarding alleged violations on the Temple Mount. “Settlers enter the Temple Mount guarded by Israeli police officers daily,” Abbas told a Palestinian television station. “Throughout the West Bank they attack Palestinians and destroy their property, while the army sits idly by, sometimes even protecting them.”
Clearly authorities aren’t standing by, though it’s hard to imagine that an increase in confrontations of any kind on the Temple Mount will inspire peaceful interactions, on a small scale or large.
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.