Amid Fragile Truce, Jewish Visitors Return To Holy Site That Precipitated War With Hamas

(Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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More than 250 Jews were escorted by Israeli police to a Jewish holy site they call the “Temple Mount,” which is also called the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sunday, marking the first time Jewish visitors have been allowed to visit since May 4.

The site was one of the flash points of the 11-day fight between Israel and Gaza which ended with a ceasefire Friday. Clashes around the mosque between Israeli police and Palestinian rioters preceded the most recent round of rocket attacks from Hamas into Israel proper, according to The Associated Press.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, considered the third-most sacred site in Islam, is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the same site as the First and Second Temple, the holiest place in Judaism. The location has often been the source of violent conflict. (RELATED: As Slew Of Progressives Push Back Against Israel, Biden Declares That His Party ‘Still Supports’ Country)

Police cleared young Muslims out of the Mosque and barred entry for any under the age of 45, according to Islamic Waqf, the group that oversees the site. The group said six Palestinians were detained, with four later released. Israeli police say no age limit was enforced and five people were arrested, according to the AP.

The escorted visit came two days after another skirmish between rioters and Israeli police. Palestinians at the mosque threw rocks and petrol bombs at police and Israeli forces retaliated with rubber bullets and stun grenades, according to Reuters.

The clashes between Palestinians and police in the days leading up to the recent rocket attacks follow an increase in recent years of Jews visiting the holy site, according to AP.

More than 4,000 rockets were fired by Hamas at Israel prior to Friday’s ceasefire, killing 12 Israelis. Israel fired hundreds of rockets into Gaza, killing at least 243 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. (RELATED: Sen. Bernie Sanders Joins Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib In Trying To Block $735 Million Arms Sale To Israel)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that over 200 Hamas militants had been killed in the bombing campaign, including at least 25 senior commanders. Hamas alleges that a large portion of the casualties were civilians, including at least 66 children.

Six hospitals in Gaza were damaged in the attacks and more than 1,000 homes were destroyed, according to UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories Lynn Hastings. Israel was largely protected by its Iron Dome defense system, despite Hamas initiating the rocket fire and launching more attacks.