Israeli police chief says Jewish activists should avoid visiting Jerusalem holy site



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This May 29, 2013 photo, shows Israeli singer-songwriter Amir Benayoun during a concert at the port city of Ashdod, Israel. Israel's President Reuven Rivlin canceled the appearance of Benayoun at a high-profile public event following the star's release of a new song focusing on a fictional Arab who gets his kicks by stabbing Jews, it was announced Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)


Yehuda Glick, center, a rabbi and activist, who has pushed for greater Jewish access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, is escorted by his family prior to a press conference as he is released from a hospital after he survived an assassination attempt, in Jerusalem, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. Israeli police killed the suspected gunman, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, in a shootout after the attack. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)


JERUSALEM — Jewish activists bent on gaining greater access to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site should not visit there, Israel's police chief said Tuesday.

The sacred shrine known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary has been the focal point of deadly violence between Jews and Arabs in recent weeks.

Under a longstanding agreement at the site, Jews are permitted to visit but are not allowed to pray. In recent months, a growing number of Jewish worshippers have visited, many of whom seek greater access and the right to pray.

Palestinians see visits by Jews to the site as provocative and a sign of Israeli encroachment, and violent riots have broken out in Jerusalem over the tensions.

"People from the extreme right took the issue of the Temple Mount and turned it into an agenda and said, 'We need to change the status quo,'" police chief Yohanan Danino told a conference in the southern town of Sderot. "We've always warned: ... 'Leave the Temple Mount alone. You don't know what you are inflaming.'"

Some Israeli lawmakers have been among the visitors to the site.

A series of attacks by Arab-Israelis and Palestinians have killed 11 Israelis in recent weeks, with some of the assailants believed to have been inspired by what they perceived as a need to defend the holy site. A Palestinian attacker recently shot and wounded Yehuda Glick, a leader of the Temple Mount activists.

Tensions between Arabs and Jews have soared over the violence and on Tuesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin canceled the appearance of a local pop star at a high-profile public event following the singer's release of a new song about a fictional Arab who stabs Jews.

The song by Amir Benayoun reflects the recent tensions. Rivlin's office said the sentiments expressed by Benayoun in the song "Ahmed Loves Israel" are "inconsistent with the responsibility required of the president's residence."

Palestinian artists also have released a song calling for attacks on West Bank Jewish settlers.

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