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Israeli Police: Terror Groups Spreading ‘Fake News’ About Temple Mount to Stoke Tensions

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avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Dome of the Rock is seen from inside Al-Aqsa Mosque through a doorway in Jerusalem’s Old City November 16, 2021. Picture taken November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Terrorist groups have in recent days been disseminating false information on social media regarding the Temple Mount, the Israeli Police alleged on Wednesday, with the aim of stoking violence around the flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.

“These publications are distributed, among other things, by terrorist organizations that try to exploit the Temple Mount and young people to serve their own personal purposes,” the police said.

The spread of misinformation comes after Israel has in recent weeks been pressed to reaffirm its commitment to the status quo on the Temple Mount, after the Arab League accused the country of violating long-standing practice at the Temple Mount by permitting Jews to pray at the holy site.

Israeli security forces faced regular clashes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with Palestinian demonstrators around the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

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“Hereby we clarify that there is no change, and we expect no change in the practice that has existed for many years around the Temple Mount and the holy places in general – with regard to both Muslim prayers and visits by tourists from abroad and Israelis, according to the usual visiting hours,” the Israeli Police said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which also reiterated the maintenance of the status quo on the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem’s Old City, pointed to one false claim spreading online that Israel has “disconnected loudspeakers” on the holy site.

“These lies are being circulated by extremists with the aim of inciting violence. Israel is committed to enabling freedom of worship for all religions, while ensuring the security of worshipers and the general public,” the foreign ministry stated. “Over a million Muslim worshipers who attended prayers at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan are the best testament to the protection of the status quo and freedom of worship in the holy places.”

With the Temple Mount set to reopen to non-Muslim visitors on Thursday, Israel’s Independence Day, the Hamas terror group threatened a fresh escalation if Israel allows Jews to enter the site.

“Visits by Jews on the Temple Mount, in small groups and at designated hours, has been normal practice for many years,” the Israeli foreign ministry stated. “These visits will not be stopped despite attempts by terror groups and extremist elements to incite to violence.”

Israel Police warned that “anyone who disturbs the peace, incites violence, riots and acts violently in any way — will be treated harshly and with zero tolerance.”

“Any support, identification or activity within the framework of terrorist organizations will be handled by the security forces with determination and with all the forces and means at our disposal,” the police cautioned.

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