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“.
Moment Israeli army attacks march to defend aqsa. Today, for the first time since 1967, Israel fully closed aqsa, not even the adhan allowed, in an attempt to take it over for Jewish prayer. Tensions are high and tomorrow there will be a showdown at Friday prayers. The brave Palestinians of #jerusalem are up to the challenge #aqsa #palestine
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.
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:
Settlers held a demonstration demanding access to Haram al-Sharif. They danced to a medley of the C & C Music Factory – Everybody Dance Now
— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) October 30, 2014