Israel Police on Saturday night removed Muslims from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem who they said were planning to disrupt Sunday morning prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
During the monthlong fasting holiday of Ramadan, which began on Wednesday evening, tens of thousands of Muslims ascend to the Temple Mount to worship. The morning Fajr prayer that the group is accused of planning to disrupt with rioting is one of five mandated prayers in Islam to be performed throughout the day.
“While the police are working to allow Muslims full freedom of worship during Ramadan, last night after the prayers on the Temple Mount and its closing, large numbers of people barricaded themselves in place, aiming to cause disorder and disrupt the early morning Fajr prayer,” the Israel Police said in a statement.
“Most of them disobeyed the instructions and refused to leave the site. Police were forced to remove them. This is in complete contrast to the agreement with the Waqf for Ramadan and completely in contrast to the rules of the site,” the statement continued.
The Waqf is the Jordanian-appointed Islamic trust that oversees Muslim sites on the Temple Mount as part of an agreement reached after Israel liberated the Old City in 1967.
“The Israel Police will continue to allow the freedom of worship but will work to prevent any intention or attempt to disrupt public order and harm the existing practices in the holy sites,” the statement added
A group of Jewish worshippers ascended the Temple Mount on Sunday, escorted by police, the Palestinian Authority’s Wafa news agency reported. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam.
Wafa also reported that two Muslims were arrested during the Saturday night operation to remove the people suspected of planning riots, while Israel media reported one arrest.
Palestinian terrorist groups annually promote violence during Ramadan and attempt to cause chaos on the Temple Mount.