Israeli police chief criticizes Jewish activists

AP News
Posted: Nov 25, 2014 12:20 PM
Israeli police chief criticizes Jewish activists

JERUSALEM (AP) — Jewish activists bent on gaining greater access to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site should not visit there, Israel's police chief said Tuesday.

The sacred shrine known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary has been the focal point of deadly violence between Jews and Arabs in recent weeks.

Under a longstanding agreement at the site, Jews are permitted to visit but are not allowed to pray. In recent months, a growing number of Jewish worshippers have visited, many of whom seek greater access and the right to pray.

Palestinians see visits by Jews to the site as provocative and a sign of Israeli encroachment, and violent riots have broken out in Jerusalem over the tensions.

"People from the extreme right took the issue of the Temple Mount and turned it into an agenda and said, 'We need to change the status quo,'" police chief Yohanan Danino told a conference in the southern town of Sderot. "We've always warned: ... 'Leave the Temple Mount alone. You don't know what you are inflaming.'"

A series of attacks by Arab-Israelis and Palestinians have killed 11 Israelis in recent weeks, with some of the assailants believed to have been inspired by what they perceived as a need to defend the holy site. A Palestinian attacker recently shot and wounded Yehuda Glick, a leader of the Temple Mount activists.

Tensions between Arabs and Jews have soared over the violence and on Tuesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin canceled the appearance of a local pop star at a high-profile public event following the singer's release of a new song about a fictional Arab who stabs Jews.

The song by Amir Benayoun reflects the recent tensions. Rivlin's office said the sentiments expressed by Benayoun in the song "Ahmed Loves Israel" are "inconsistent with the responsibility required of the president's residence."

Palestinian artists also have released a song calling for attacks on West Bank Jewish settlers.