The United States on Wednesday called for Israelis and Palestinians to exercise restraint amid tensions over a “disturbance” at that Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.
“We're concerned about the recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, Haram al-Sharif, including the detention today of the Grand Mufti,” State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell, told reporters.
“We understand that he was released,” he said. “But we urge all sides to respect the status quo of this holy sight and to exercise restraint and refrain from provocative actions.”
Israeli police are questioning a top Muslim cleric over a “disturbance” at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, as Israelis celebrated Jerusalem Day.
The Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, was taken from his home by detectives and taken to a police station “on suspicion of involvement in a disturbance,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in Israel.
“Some chairs were thrown at a group of Jews on the Temple Mount,” Rosenfeld said of the plaza which is known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif.
The site houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, and is also venerated by Jews as the place where their two ancient temples once stood, the last of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Hussein's detention comes as Israelis were celebrating Jerusalem Day which marks the “reunification” of the city after Israel captured the Arab eastern sector from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War.
Israel later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
U.S. urges restraint after Jerusalem mosque incident