Top Waqf Officials Arrested Over Incitement Concerns

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View of Har HaBayis. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Reports in Arab media Sunday said that police morning arrested Najah Bakirtat, the deputy head of the Muslim Waqf in Yerushalayim. That arrest came after several other Waqf officials were detained earlier Sunday morning, among them Abd al-Azim Salhab, the head of a new Waqf department established by Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Extra forces are on alert throughout the Old City and in the area of the Kosel to prevent rioting.

The arrests came on the background of riots last week and over the weekend by Arabs demanding that Israeli security officials reopen access to the Sha’ar Harachamim area of Har HaBayis. The entrance was closed several years ago because of the use of the area for recruiting terrorists. In recent weeks, Islamists forced open the entrance, attempting to dismantle an iron chain that was placed on the gate into the Sha’ar Harachamim area.

Last Thursday night, police arrested 60 Arabs who were suspected of trying to incite riots at Friday prayers on Har HaBayis. On Friday, thousands of Arabs attempted to break through the gate, but police were able to keep them at bay and prevent a major riot. Police asked the courts Sunday to extend the remand of the detainees by five days, over concerns that they will succeed in inciting a major riot.

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