JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jewish activists seized several buildings near the border with Jordan to protest its interference in Temple Mount affairs.
Approximately 30 right-wing activists entered the buildings — abandoned churches, according to Haaretz — accompanied by a television crew.
The activists reportedly wanted to send a message to Jordan to stay out of matters regarding the Temple Mount. Israel and Jordan have been involved in talks to replace the temporary wooden Mughrabi Bridge, which was erected in 2004 to replace a damaged stone walkway. The bridge was closed Monday after engineers said it could collapse or catch fire.
Jordan has called on Israel to refrain from destroying the bridge, saying it will change the character of the holy site.
Israeli security forces evacuated the protesters.
A Hamas spokesman on Monday called Israel’s closure of the Mughrabi Bridge "a violent act that amounts to a declaration of religious war on the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem.”
Long resented by Muslims, the bridge links the Western Wall to the Temple Mount and had allowed tourists to visit the latter’s Al Aksa and Dome of the Rock mosques.
The structure was to have been demolished last month to make way for a new, permanent walkway, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed the project in a move widely seen as designed to avoid stirring anti-Israel passions in Arab states rocked by political turmoil.