2 Waqf officials arrested after attack on Jewish visitors to Temple Mount

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two members of the Islamic Waqf, the Jordanian body that oversees the Temple Mount, were arrested after allegedly attacking a group of Israeli archaeologists visiting the site.

On Thursday, a day after the arrests by Israeli police, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended their custody while the incident is investigated.

A group of six archaeologists were touring the Temple Mount on Wednesday. The group included Zachi Dvira, who heads a Temple Mount project in which volunteers sift through hundreds of tons of earth moved from the site by the Waqf and dumped without trying to salvage artifacts.

The group reportedly was asked to leave after Dvira bent down to retrieve a stone that Waqf officials said was an olive and asserted he was not allowed to pick up. Eight Waqf members reportedly surrounded the group and verbally and physically attacked the archaeologists.

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Dvira said in a post on Facebook that he filmed part of the attack on his cellphone, but Waqf officials took the phone and deleted the video. He said they backed off when he threatened to complain to the head of the Waqf. No one was injured.

The officials were arrested following the incident.

Jewish visitors  can only ascend the Temple Mount during limited visiting hours and are forbidden from doing anything resembling worship such as kneeling, singing, dancing or rending their clothes.