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Police Limit Temple Mount Entry Anticipating Friday Riots

By & Reuters

The political leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, called Thursday for Muslims to defend the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, saying Israel was trying to seize the site, which is revered in both Islam and Judaism. Mashaal, speaking in the Qatari capital Doha where he lives, said: "We call on all our people inside the country to hurry up to al-Aqsa to defend it."

The site has been the location of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police earlier this week when security forces arrived for what a police spokesman said was an attempt to stop the Palestinians from "staging a riot and disrupting visits".

Mashaal accused the Israeli government of taking advantage of Arab preoccupation with regional turmoil, particularly in Syria and Iraq, to try to take over al-Aqsa, the third holiest shrine in Islam - also revered by Jews as the site of the two ancient Jewish temples. "We call on the nation to be angry and to send a message of painful anger to the world that the Palestinian people, the Arab and Muslim nation, will not be silent at the Israeli crime," Mashaal said.

Anticipating yet another Muslim "day of rest" on Friday punctuated by the explosions of fireworks, rocks and general mayhem on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, Jerusalem District Police Chief Yossi Pariente decided to limit entry for Muslim visitors.

Muslim male visitors will be limited to those over the age of 50, in an attempt to limit the young Arab rioters expected to return to their increasingly frequent occupation of violent clashes with police to block Jewish entry.

According to intelligence information received by the police, Arab youths are indeed planning to riot after Friday morning prayers. Police and Border Patrol forces will be deployed from the early morning hours in eastern Jerusalem and the Old City to try and prevent riots.

However, many are left wondering if they will succeed, after similar moves to limit entry to Muslim males over 50 while allowing Muslim females of all ages on Hoshana Raba Wednesday, the last day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, still ended with Jewish entry being cancelled due to the violent riots.

Only 103 Jews were able to visit the holiest site of Judaism on the holiday before the closure, during riots in which at least three police officers were lightly hurt by Muslim rioters throwing rocks at them at a gate to the Temple Mount, in rioting that in places was reportedly led by Arab MKs.

While only Muslims aged over 50 were allowed in, they too exhibited contempt for the Jewish pilgrims, shouting wildly at them. Jewish activists reported that the Muslims were conducting raucous prayers in the Temple Mount plaza, while Jews were still forbidden from any kind of prayer by the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) that holds de facto control of the site.

The rioters on the Mount, part of a recent wave of violence in Jerusalem, were caught off guard on Monday when police stormed the Temple Mount and locked them inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The youths had collected rocks and fireworks and prepared firebombs, which they stored inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to use them against police and interfere with non-Muslim visits to the Mount.

That same day in Ramallah, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon slammed the enforcement as a "provocation," saying "I am...deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem. These only inflame tensions and must stop."

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Kotel (Western Wall) and Holy Sites, last week decried the Arab attempts to wreck the week-long Sukkot holiday by violently rioting to block Jewish visitors, warning the Temple Mount has been turned into a "terror base."

Speaking to Israel National News, the rabbi argued that the Arab rioters are intentionally trying to prevent Jews from reaching the site on Sukkot, one of the three Jewish pilgrimage holidays that in ancient times required Jews to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Palestinians accuse Israel of trying to restrict their access to the mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem to allow Jews to pray there, something which is banned under a long-standing agreement between the two sides. Orthodox Jews, meanwhile, are pressing for easier access to the compound. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has denied there are any moves to restrict Palestinian access to the compound and blamed Palestinian extremists for the violence.

Asked if he was worried his call may lead to a new conflict soon after 50 days of fighting between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, Mashaal said: "Nobody wants a war, but it's our right to resist and preserve our rights. We are under occupation ... We have been resisting for one hundred years and will continue. Al-Aqsa is worth us becoming martyrs for, and anyone who can carry a weapon in the region should go and defend it, as this is the true meaning of jihad."

Senior US Rabbi Charged with Mikveh Voyeurism


A prominent rabbi in Washington DC has been charged with voyeurism for allegedly spying on women performing a sacred Jewish ritual bath in private. Barry Freundel, 62, of the Kesher Israel synagogue, is suspected of using a video camera hidden inside a clock radio to capture female congregants performing the mikveh ritual at his residence, according to AFP.

The father-of-three pleaded not guilty in the District of Columbia Superior Court on Wednesday. Currently free on bail, he could face six years in prison if convicted. He is to reappear in court on November 12.

Court documents allege that the hidden camera recorded at least six women, partially or fully naked, as they emerged from a shower or changed their clothes. Three videos date from June 2. According to the Washington Post, citing a biographical page on the synagogue's website that has since been taken down, Freundel heads the Rabbinical Council of America's conversion committee.

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