Muslim Cleric Interrogated After Disturbance at Har Habayis

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) —

Israeli police arrested on Wednesday the top Palestinian Muslim religious leader in Yerushalayim but released him without charge after questioning him about disorders at al-Aqsa mosque. It was a rare move against a religious official.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Yerushalayim, was arrested to answer questions about his suspected role in a “public disturbance” on Tuesday near al-Aqsa mosque, which overlooks the Kosel.

The incident began, Rosenfeld said, when Israeli police detained a Palestinian who wanted to enter the plaza but refused to present his identification card.

It developed into a scuffle in which Muslim worshippers threw chairs at Jewish visitors.

Two police officers were lightly injured after they arrested an Arab youth for disturbing the peace.

Rosenfeld said Hussein was questioned for six hours and released without charge.

The arrest was widely condemned by Palestinian leaders as an infringement on religious freedom in the holy city.

In another development related to the Kosel on Wednesday, the Jordanian Parliament’s Lower House voted to demand the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Amman and to recall the Jordanian ambassador from Israel, Jordanian news portal Ammon reported.

The non-binding vote came after Israel limited the entrance of Muslim worshipers to Har Habayis on Tuesday and allowed Jews to visit the compound on the occasion of Yom Yerushalayim, which continued into Wednesday.  Leading poskim have forbidden Jews from entering the area of Har Habayis.

Ammon quoted Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour as saying the “attacks” on al-Aksa Mosque by Israeli security forces were “premeditated and foretell of evil intentions.”

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