Israeli police Monday stopped some 200 extremist Jews from entering Jerusalem's mosque compound to lay the foundation stone for a new Jewish temple on the site, Islam's third holiest.
The tiny Faithful of Temple Mount group had been barred Sunday from staging the ceremony in one of the most sensitive sites in the Middle East, which is at the center of bloody conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
The group, backed by a number of other Jewish ultra-nationalists and Christian fundamentalists, ended up holding a demonstration near the Western Wall, sacred to Jews, which stands below the mosque compound.
The group's leader, Gershom Salomon, accused the government of "capitulating to the Arabs."
The Faithful of Temple Mount are bent on reconstructing the Jewish temple destroyed by the Roman Empire in the year 70 AD on the site now occupied by the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
The group ritually announces its intention to lay a symbolic foundation stone at the site during the annual Jewish Feast of the Tabernacle, or Sukkot, and is just as regularly blocked by the Israeli authorities.
Jerusalem mufti Sheikh Ekrima Sabri had called on Muslims to go to the compound to protest the ceremony.
A visit by Israeli right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the compound on September 28 sparked off violent protests by Palestinians which spread through the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as into Israeli itself.
A total of 107 people have been killed in fierce clashes, all but seven of them Arabs - JERUSALEM (AFP)
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