The mere presence of a Jewish police officer clad in a kippah, the traditional religious skullcap worn by Jews, has set off a riot on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post's ever-intrepid Khaled Abu Toameh reports that protesters have barricaded themselves inside the Dome of the Rock after being offended and incensed by the sight of a Jew patrolling the holy area:
Muslim worshipers and guards for the Wakf Islamic religious trust protested on Monday against an Israeli policeman wearing a kippah who tried to enter the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount as part of a routine security patrol.
The protesters barricaded themselves inside the shrine after a large police force was rushed to the area, witnesses said. They demanded that the policeman remove the kippah before entering the site, triggering a standoff with police...
The Wakf said in a statement that it had ordered the closure of the Dome of the Rock after an Israeli policeman “attempted to storm it while wearing a kippah.” It said that two Israeli policemen enter the site daily – in the morning and evening – for a routine security check.
“The guards at the Dome of the Rock asked the policeman to remove his kippah before entering the site, but he refused and insisted on entering it even by force,” the Wakf statement said. “The guards then closed all the gates of the Dome of the Rock. Later, police officers were deployed at the entrances to the Dome of the Rock, while the guards and worshipers remained inside...”
The standoff began shortly after Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) toured the Temple Mount accompanied by scores of Jewish visitors.
The Palestinian Authority’s minister for religious affairs, Yusef Edais, condemned the incident at the Temple Mount as an “assault on the feelings of Muslims and their holy sites.”
“These are immoral practices that create more religious incitement inside and outside of Jerusalem,” he charged. He also accused Israel of working toward “dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque in time and space” between Muslims and Jews.