Israel reopened Jerusalem’s Temple Mount today, a day after it closed the disputed religious site for the first time since 2000 following the attempted assassination of a right-wing Jewish activist.
More than 1,000 security personnel were deployed following clashes Thursday between Palestinians and riot police.
NPR’s Emily Harris reported on the reopening for our Newscast unit. She said:
“Israeli police allowed Muslim women and men over 50 onto the Haram al-Sharif for prayers Friday. The site is also known as the Temple Mount, and is considered the holiest site in Judaism. Israeli police control access but the area is governed by a Muslim organization. Police closed the Temple Mount to everyone Thursday after two shootings: A Palestinian man badly wounded an Israeli activist who has long promoted more Jewish access and Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, then Israeli police killed a Palestinian they said was a suspect. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he doesn’t want to change the current rules governing the Temple Mount, but questions of control are part of the rising tensions and violence in Jerusalem.”
As we reported Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the closure of the site a “declaration of war” on Palestinians. Abbas recently said Jews should be prevented from entering the site, calling them a “herd of cattle.” Jews can visit the site but cannot pray there.
The Temple Mount was last closed to all visitors following a visit in 2000 by Ariel Sharon, who at the time was leader of the-then main opposition Likud party. The violence that followed led to the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted until 2005. Before that, it was previously closed completely in 1967.