Al Aqsa mosque is closed off for first time in 47 years as tensions flare

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For the first time since 1967 the Israeli military has closed off Haram al-Sharif – the Noble Sanctuary and Al Aqsa Mosque to worshipers. A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas described the closure of the holy site as a “declaration of war“. The Israeli army is currently attacking protesters in Old City of Jerusalem. But protests are expected to continue all over Palestine in a “Day of Rage“.

Late today, Israeli police said that the mosque had been reopened. “After police security assessments made, Temple Mount open again after being closed today. Police units still in Jerusalem this evening.”

News accounts say that Al Aqsa will be open for prayer tomorrow.

Yehuda Glick (Photo by Emil Salman)
Yehuda Glick (Photo by Emil Salman)

The closure followed an attack on a prominent U.S- born hardline rightwing Jewish Temple activist, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a major proponent of expanding Jewish worship and access to the Mosque compound, the holy site also referenced as the Temple Mount. Glick was shot by a gunman outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem and is listed in critical condition in Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Haaretz reports the attack was witnessed by rightwing member of Knesset Moshe Feiglin after both men attended a conference about increasing Jewish presence on the Temple Mount. The Washington Post says that Glick was banned from the area by police in years past due to his provocative actions.

Police hunted down Muataz Hijazi, the suspected gunman, and killed him on the roof of his house at 5:30 am in a burst of gunfire that rang through the neighborhood. They then proceeded to arrest Hijazi’s family members.

The Israeli government is not doing much to calm the situation. Netanyahu accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of inciting the latest tension. And in New York the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. showed a photograph of an ISIS-style flag found on the Temple Mount, suggesting that radical Islamists are at the root of the problem.

Fundamentalist settlers seem to be thrilled by the confrontation. Dan Cohen reports:

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I knew that you would give us the latest in this outrage/provocation, Annie.

Is the Third Intifada just about to erupt?

Moshe Feiglin, who keeps company with extremist settler & previously banned, Yehuda Glick…..

Concerning the “Isis Flag” someone on Twitter said “Mohamed Hamdouni ‏@HamdouniMohamed 23h23 hours ago [email protected] @IsraelinUN how come a place forbidden to Palestinians can have someone supposed to be 1 of them posing in front of camera? Good point. Also the only people I have seen waving Black Flags were… Read more »

“They danced to a medley of the C & C Music Factory – Everybody Dance Now”

Is that a reference to some Muslim ban on modern dance?

From Avnery: Last Tuesday, reading Haaretz, I noticed that a whole page – page 4 – consisted of news concerning Jewish-Arab relations. Item 1: Tens of Jewish settlers invaded the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, next to the Temple Mount, in the middle of the night. Silwan, the biblical Shiloah, is… Read more »

Here, it’s 47 years since the mosque was last closed to worshippers. This afternoon, CNN said it was 14 years since it was last closed after Sharon’s promenade there that kicked-off the Second Intifada. Later this afternoon, an Abbas official said it was the first time the mosque has been… Read more »