Five Jewish men who were trying to pray on Temple Mount have been arrested after barging into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound alongside a right-wing politician from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party.
The men were joined in their protest by Member of the Knesset Moshe Feiglin and were detained by police not long after they reopened the site to non-Muslims. Feiglin, from Likud, was not among those arrested.
The incident follows an assassination attempt last week on Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who has campaigned for Jews to be allowed to pray there. The shooting, from which Glick is recovering, led to the mosque’s first closure in over 14 years and an international outcry.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, who called an emergency session of the UN Security Council, said his country “will continue to confront, through all available means, Israeli unilateral policies and measures in Jerusalem”.
The arrests come at a time of heightened tension in the city, with more than 100 Palestinians having been detained in the last ten days alone, as security forces shot and killed Glick’s would-be assassin.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier appealed for calm on the site held holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. “It is easy to start a religious fire, but much more difficult to extinguish it,” he said on Sunday.
“Let us not play into the hands of our extremist enemies. What is necessary now is to show restraint and to work together to calm the situation.”
However Feiglin, who opposes an independent Palestinian state or equal citizenship for Israel’s Arab population, refused the call to stay away, instead entering the al-Aqsa compound with others on Sunday morning.