Total closure of West Bank extended – linked to security for re-opening of synagogue in East Jerusalem's Old City

This is from the Jerusalem Post: “Following a weekend of sporadic clashes between Arab youths and security forces in and around the capital, Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco decided to extend heightened security measures put into place in the Old City and east Jerusalem for an additional day. Franco’s decision, made following a security assessment on Saturday night, came before the scheduled rededication of the historic Hurva synagogue in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter on Monday. The rededication of the synagogue, which dates back to 1700 and has been razed and rebuilt twice – it was last destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948 – is expected to draw large crowds and has been the source of rising tensions and circulating rumors regarding the Temple Mount [n.b. — this is what Israel calls the plateau where the Second and also the earlier First Jewish Temples are believed to have stood, and which Muslims call the Haram ash-Sharif, housing both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most revered site in Islam, built nearly 600 years after the destruction of the Second Temple — the plateau itself is supported in part by the Western or Wailing Wall, the most revered site in Judaism]…

The JPost article continues: “Palestinian clerics have reportedly claimed that the rebuilding of the synagogue would also give way to plans by right-wing Jewish elements to lay a cornerstone for the construction of the third temple on the Temple Mount – a rumor, based on an 18th-century rabbinic tradition purportedly declared by the Vilna Gaon, which has been brushed off by right-wing activists themselves as having been given ‘certain poetic license’. Nonetheless, an increased deployment of security forces will continue throughout the Old City and elsewhere in east Jerusalem on Sunday, and only Muslim men above the age of 50 and women of any age will be permitted into the Temple Mount compound – a common step taken by police to reduce the potential for violence”. The JPost article can be read in full

The same JPost article also reports that “Restrictions to the Temple Mount began on Friday morning amid fears of violence, and young Arabs barred from the mount clashed with security forces at various spots in and around the Old City. A policeman was lightly wounded by rocks and four young Arabs were arrested for attacking security forces, police said. At one point, police prevented several Arab youngsters from breaking through a security barrier at the Ras el-Amud checkpoint in a bid to get to the Temple Mount [i.e., to Al-Aqsa Mosque]. Also beginning Friday morning, some 3,000 police were deployed on the mount and throughout the Old City, and access to the site was restricted to men over 50 and women. This followed an intelligence report warning of violence over the decision to include Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs and Bethlehem’s Rachel’s Tomb on the heritage list, as well as over this week’s announcement by an Interior Ministry committee of the planned expansion of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo [n.b. – the announcement was made during the [three-day] visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and elicited a strong American condemnation and follow-up protests]. Also on Friday, rock-throwing broke out between Jews and Arabs near the tomb of Shimon Hatzadik in Sheikh Jarrah after the weekly left-wing protest…”

In large part because of the volatile situation in East Jerusalem — which has sparked sporadic protests at West Bank flashpoints including the incredibly congested and badly-managed Qalandia checkpoint — the TOTAL CLOSURE of the West Bank [except for some “humanitarian cases”] which began on Friday morning, has now been extended until after midnight on Tuesday

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