The Israeli Police arrested 15 Palestinians on the Temple Mount Wednesday who waved Hamas flags and hung a banner featuring images of terrorists.
The sign and flags were unfurled at the end of morning prayers marking the holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The prayers proceeded without incident. As the crowd of tens of thousands was dispersing, a number of masked men began waving the green flags of Hamas and unfurled the banner in the Temple Mount plaza.
Police arrested 15 people and removed the banner. Authorities seized the flags, Hamas flyers and a bullet.
“The police officers of the Jerusalem District are obliged to allow every person of any religion to celebrate their holidays according to the law, including during the days of Eid al-Adha that began today. This morning there were again those who took advantage of the holiday and the holy places for a demonstration of incitement and support for terrorism,” said Jerusalem Police commander Doron Turgeman.
“Whoever thinks that committing such illegal acts under the cover of the holiday will give him immunity or protection from the law is very wrong. So far we have arrested 15 suspects who were involved in waving flags, chanting in favor of terrorism and hanging the banner of a terrorist organization. Acts of incitement, encouragement and support for terrorism will be dealt with decisively by us everywhere in Jerusalem, including on the Temple Mount,” Turgeman added.
The delicate status quo governing the Temple Mount goes back to June 1967, when Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six-Day War. Then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan agreed to let the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trust, continue to manage the holy site’s day-to-day affairs, while Israel would maintain overall sovereignty and be responsible for security. The Waqf is overseen by Jordan.
Neither the Waqf nor Jordan commented on this morning’s incident.
According to the status quo, non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Temple Mount but not pray there.
Rabbis are increasingly divided over the issue of Jews ascending the Temple Mount. For centuries, the rabbinic consensus was that the laws of ritual purity still apply to the site; therefore, Jews were forbidden to go there.
But in recent years, a growing number of rabbis have argued that ritual purity laws don’t apply to all sections of the Temple Mount and encourage visits to permitted areas to maintain Jewish connections to the site.