After Mass Rioting, Israeli Police Arrest Officials Of Islamic Trust That Administers Temple Mount Sites
Two senior officials of the Waqf Islamic trust that administers religious sites on the Temple Mount—known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif—were briefly detained Sunday following a week of rioting that culminated with thousands of Palestinians storming the shuttered Golden Gate area. An Israeli court ordered the section—also known as the Gate of Mercy—closed in 2003, as Islamists with ties to Hamas were using it as a political staging ground. The Israeli government also accused the Waqf of conducting illegal excavations there in order to destroy archaeological evidence of the Jewish people’s two-thousand-years-long connection to the Temple Mount. Jordan, which is the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, strongly condemned the arrests as a “dangerous and serious escalation.” Meanwhile, Israeli media reported that despite what appears to be a concerted effort to raise tensions, the Golden Gate will be permanently re-opened in order to prevent further violence as well as a diplomatic crisis with Amman. All of this comes on the heels of a move by Jordan to expand the Waqf’s administrative council so that Palestinian officials could for the first time be included in its ranks. The decision is viewed as a bid to consolidate the PA’s claim to the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.