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Police Bar Non-Muslims From Temple Mount Despite Court Order
Thursday, August 3, 2006 / 9 Av 5766

Despite a High Court decision, Jerusalem's Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, was closed to Jews on the Fast of Tisha B'Av, which mourns the destruction of the Holy Temple.

Despite the fact that the Mount represents the focal point of the fast, only Muslim woman and Muslim men over the age of 45 were permitted entry Thursday.

Israel's Supreme Court ruled two days ago that members of the Temple Mount Faithful could ascend the mount on Tisha B'Av during the normal hours during which non-Muslims are usually allowed on the Mount, Sunday-Thursday. The court ruled that the group could not carry placards, dress in a provocative fashion or draw any attention to themselves - and the group's founder, Gershon Solomon, was to be barred from the Mount altogether.

In response, the head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Sheikh Raed Selah, told Israel Radio that the Supreme Court does not have the authority to rule on the matter, "because Israel does not have sovereignty over [the Temple Mount]." He also issued a call for Muslims to flock to the Al Aqsa Mosque Thursday to confront Jewish worshipers.

Following additional threats by Arab MKs Ibrahim Sarsour and Abbas Zkoor (Ra'am-Ta'al), Police barred not only members of the Temple Mount Faithful group but all non-Muslims. They said the decision was due to a fear of violent clashes between Temple Mount Faithful activists and Muslim protesters.

Police detained one Jewish man who requested to be allowed to visit the Temple Mount Thursday morning, claiming he obstructed the entrance to the Western Wall to worshipers.

Observant Jews have begun visiting the Temple Mount in larger numbers in recent years, but are encouraged to consult with a rabbi knowledgable in the related issues to receive instructions on proper preparations for the visit.