The Jewish Chronicle

Control clashes trigger Temple Mount arrest

- BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

TENSION INCREASED on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount over the weekend after waqf, the site’s Islamic custodian body, forced open a building at the edge of the compound that had been closed by Israel in 2003 and its head was arrested for questionin­g by police.

The forced entry by the waqf into the Bab a-Rahma building was seen as another attempt to assert their control, 16 years after it was closed by Israel over its use by an Islamic associatio­n aligned with Hamas.

After Israeli police barred the doors once more, supportive Palestinia­ns returned and broke the doors open. Since then, police have refrained from evicting them, responding instead with the arrest of the waqf’s Secretary General Sheikh Abdel-Azeem Salhab. He was released a few hours later.

The weekend’s events followed a escalation in the struggle for control of the compound between all the sides involved.

The waqf has complained that Israeli police are growing increasing­ly lax at imposing the status quo on the Mount, which allows Jews to visit at prescribed hours during weekdays, but forbids them from praying.

Another recent developmen­t was the Jordanian royal house’s decision to add seven Palestinia­n members associated with the Fatah faction to the waqf council. The move was seen as a gesture by King Abdullah to his own Palestinia­n subjects living in Jordan.

The past 18 months have been relatively calm after violence around the Temple Mount in 2017.

But the threat of escalation remains on other fronts — such as on the borders of Gaza, and in the West Bank, where there is fury at an Israeli decision to freeze £100 million in Palestinia­n funds.

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