(JTA) – Israeli police arrested 15 people as they broke up multiple illegal demonstrations Thursday in Jerusalem.
In separate incidents on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, right-wing Jews tried to march to the Temple Mount and formed a human chain blocking access to the Damascus Gate. In addition, police stopped several dozen Israeli Arabs affiliated with the Islamic Movement from marching to the Temple Mount.
The Damascus Gate connects an Arab section of eastern Jerusalem to the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. The Temple Mount – a site holy to both Jews and Muslims and a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – is also in the Old City.
Non-Muslims have limited access to the Temple Mount, site of the Al-Aqsa mosque and former site of Judaism’s first and second Temples. Non-Muslims are not allowed to pray there, but in recent years growing numbers of Jewish activists have advocated for increased Jewish access there.
Among those arrested Thursday were three Jewish women who had babies strapped to their bodies and, according to police, were acting violently and in a way that endangered their children.