Israeli police block rightist access to Muslim flashpoint shrine

AFP , Sunday 12 Feb 2012

Police barred non-Muslims from visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque complex on Sunday after right-wing Jewish activists called for a rally at the flashpoint site

"Police closed the Temple Mount to visitors," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, using the Jewish term for the plateau in Jerusalem's walled Old City, believed by many to be the site of the biblical Jewish temple.

"The decision was made after leaflets were distributed calling on people to cause disturbances on the Temple Mount," Rosenfeld said.

Local media said a failed contender for leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, hardline settler Moshe Feiglin, had issued leaflets calling on supporters to march there and "purify it from thieving enemies of Israel."

But Feiglin, who received 23 percent of the vote in a party primary this month, denied planning any disruption at the site, sacred to Muslims and Jews. "This is a standard ascent to the Temple Mount I make once a month on this day, and have been doing so for the past 10 years or so," he told AFP as he waited with a few dozen of his supporters outside the compound.

Denied entry by police they went instead to pray at the adjacent Western Wall, the most sacred site at which Jews can pray. The compound above is home to the third-most sacred site in Islam and is venerated by Jews as the site where King Herod's temple once stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

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