Israeli riot police secure the Temple Mount during a previous incident. (AP/Mahmoud Illean) (AP/Mahmoud Illean)
Temple Mount police

Mosque officials tried to force an Israeli policeman to remove his religious head-covering before performing a routine security check on the Temple Mount.

By Associated Press and United with Israel Staff

Guards at a mosque built on top of the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Monday refused to allow an Israeli policeman to enter for a routine security check because he was wearing a Jewish skullcap known as a “kippah,” a Palestinian official said.

Firas Dibs, a spokesman for the Islamic authority that oversees the site, says dozens of worshipers scuffled with police after the guards closed the doors to the mosque and barricaded themselves inside.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld commented that police “prevented any disturbances from taking place” after local residents closed the doors of the mosque and prevented officers from entering. The doors were opened a few hours later and police detained five people for questioning.

The Temple Mount has remained Judaism’s holiest site since biblical times, when the Holy Temples stood at this location for around 1,000 years total. Muslims built an Islamic shrine on top of the Jewish Temple Mount it in the seventh century, and currently control the site via the Islamic Waqf, which forbids non-Muslims from praying there.

Technically, the Temple Mounts sits in sovereign Israeli territory, notwithstanding permission that the Waqf has been granted to “administer” the site.

Dibs said police carry out routine security checks every morning, and that the policeman was only prevented from entering because he was wearing a kippah.

He did provide an explanation with regard to why Muslims deem a Jewish head-covering grounds to bar entry to the site.