JERUSALEM, Israel – Unrest broke out on the Temple Mount Friday morning when hundreds of Muslim worshippers reportedly began chanting and causing disturbances, a police spokesperson said.
The unrest began after some 8,000 people finished Friday prayers at Al Aqsa mosque. Police quickly dispersed the crowd before the chanting turned violent.
The #TempleMount, located in #Jerusalem's Old City, has long been a flash-point for violence with both #Jews and #Muslims claiming their rights to pray at the holy site — Click here for more on the story: https://t.co/3C64y3dngr pic.twitter.com/pN0QjT9IVr
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“Police will not allow disturbances to take place or nationalistic calls on the Temple Mount,” Israeli police said in a statement.
On Thursday, the Gaza-based Hamas terror group called on Palestinians to protest against Israeli “violations” at religious sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank by performing mass prayers on the Temple Mount and Cave of the Patriarchs.
“The mass prayer of the Palestinian public is intended to bring together our people at the al-Aqsa Mosque and at the Cave of the Patriarchs, supporting it in its campaign against the Zionist occupation in order to thwart his racist plans. There is no choice but to return to pray in the al-Aqsa courtyard,” a Hamas spokesperson said according to the Walla news site.
A press release from Hamas claimed Israeli authorities have been “atrociously beating, arresting and threatening” Palestinian worshipers and prevented them from entering the Temple Mount. The group also complained that Jews have allegedly been allowed to pray on the holy site. The Jerusalem Post reported last year that small groups of Jews have been allowed to pray quietly on the compound.
“This peaceful campaign is a message to the Israeli occupation and a warning that Palestinian holy sites are a red line,” Hamas said.
The Temple Mount, a frequent flashpoint for violence, is the holiest site in Judaism and is considered sacred to Muslims. Only Muslims officially allowed to pray at the site and Israeli authorities have denied recent reports that they are allowing Jews to pray there.
Palestinian leaders reject Jewish ties to the site and believe any presence of Jews there is a provocation.