JERUSALEM (Dec. 17)
A heavy police presence maintained peace on the Temple Mount and the surrounding area on Monday.
Anticipated trouble failed to materialize, as Jewish zealots known as the Temple Mount Faithful refrained from challenging a police ban on their entering the site of Islamic shrines.
The messianic group, which wants to rebuild the Temple destroyed in 70 C.E., had obtained a police permit last week to hold a Chanukah rally on the Mount.
But it was withdrawn Sunday on orders from Police Minister Ronni Milo, after Knesset members and others warned that it was inviting a repetition of the Oct. 8 Temple Mount riots.
On that occasion, during the Sukkot holiday, Arabs on the Temple Mount threw rocks at the Western Wall below, where Jews had been praying, after word spread that the Faithful planned to demonstrate.
Israeli border police subsequently killed at least 17 Arabs in an incident that has had serious repercussions for Israel all over the world.
This time, the police were taking no chances. Although no incidents occurred, they detained four activists of the anti-Arab Kach movement found in the vicinity.
The movement was founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was slain in New York last month.
Two of its leaders, Tiran Pollak and Noam Federman, were held until nightfall and released on their own recognizance. Hundreds of police reinforcements assigned to the Temple Mount area checked Moslem worshipers on their way to Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which are built above the Western Wall on the site called the Temple Mount.
Hundreds of young men were turned away at the mosque gates.
Meanwhile, the Temple Mount Faithful prayed at the Western Wall. Their leader, Gershom Salomon, told reporters that the Temple Mount had become a “hostile PLO ministate” that should be removed.