Rioting broke out in the Wadi Joz area north of Jerusalem’s Old City between Muslim worshipers attempting to reach the Temple Mount for Friday prayers and Israeli police.
The worshipers are protesting new security procedures at the holy site imposed by the Israel Police after last Friday’s deadly terror attack there that left two police officers dead. Muslim leaders have instructed those wishing to pray not to agree to pass through the metal detector gates posted at the Temple Mount. Only a few Palestinians agreed to security checks and entered the site on Friday, with thousands more praying or protesting at various sites around the city.
At Wadi Joz, rioters threw rocks and water bottles at police, and some set off fireworks. Police responded with tear gas, pushing back the crowd.
In addition, dozens of makeshift checkpoints have been set up in and around the Old City and police patrols have been bolstered in the alleyways and on paths taken by Jewish and Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
Checkpoints at the entrances to Jerusalem have also been bolstered and Palestinian media sources are reporting a number of buses bringing worshipers to Jerusalem being turned away by the IDF. Some reports said more than 30 buses were stopped from entering the city.
Muslim clerics have also been urging the faithful to skip prayers in neighborhood mosques on Friday and converge on the shrine, in an attempt to draw larger crowds. Worshipers have also been asked this week to pray in the streets rather than submit to the new security procedures.
Palestinian media reported that several key East Jerusalem figures were arrested overnight on suspicion of encouraging violent protests. Among those under arrest were Fatah’s secretary-general in Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith and the head of the city’s Palestinian Prisoners’ Families Committee Amjad Abu Assab.