Jerusalem – Chief Commissioner of the Israel Police Roni Alsheikh sent a rare and strongly-worded letter on Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning of the danger of provocative visits to the Temple Mount by politicians in advance of Passover.
“The arrival of members of Knesset and politicians on the Temple Mount might lead to an aggravation of tension and an escalation of events in a way that will constitute an actual danger to national security,” Alsheikh wrote in his letter.
According to the letter, which was made public on the Israeli Channel 2 evening news, the Police Chief’s warning comes in light of “provocation attempts made by extremists from both sides in advance of the upcoming holidays,” referring to the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian Orthodox Easter.
“I have decided to continue barring members of Knesset from going up to the Temple Mount until further notice,” he added.
In October 2015 the Israel Police enacted a strict ban on Jewish and Arab members of Knesset from entering the Temple Mount complex.
The ban followed the sharp rise in Palestinian terror attacks which began on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and which both Israel and the Palestinians have linked to tensions on the holy site.
“We always note a rise in Palestinian incitement and terrorism around important Jewish holidays,” former Israeli Security Agency (ISA) Section Director Menachem Landau told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “Especially before Rosh Hashana and Passover, since these are the holidays when religious Jews wish to go onto the Temple Mount.”