JERUSALEM (JTA) — Masked Palestinians rioted on the Temple Mount after it was opened to visitors on the eve of Sukkot.
The rioters threw rocks, concrete blocks and firebombs at police at the Mughrabi Gate entrance on Wednesday morning. Four policemen were injured during the violence and five protesters were arrested, according to Israel Police. Police said they dispersed the rioters.
Several protesters holed up in the Al Aksa Mosque and were locked inside by police, according to the Palestinian Maan news service. Visits to the Temple Mount continued undisturbed.
Tension at the Temple Mount is expected to grow this week with the influx of travelers for the Sukkot holiday visiting the site, which is holy to Jews and Muslims.
Wednesday’s riots follow weeks of rioting and unrest at the Temple Mount and in eastern Jerusalem.
The police announced Tuesday that they would increase security at the Temple Mount and throughout Jerusalem for Sukkot.
The Israeli media has reported that the Ministry of Tourism is exploring a plan to open a second gate for Jews and other non-Muslims to enter the Temple Mount. They currently use the Mughrabi Gate, whose entrance originates from the Western Wall plaza.
Palestinian leader and PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said the plan would end the possibility for peace.
“Israel is creating a new reality at the expense of Palestinians, their religious rights, sites, and historical identity,” Ashrawi said, according to Maan. “They are violating the sanctity of religious sites without consequences, which completely terminates possibilities for peace and will ultimately drag the whole region into disastrous clashes.”
Ashrawi is a Palestinian Christian.