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Violence Avoided as Police Escorts Jewish Group to Jerusalem Gate - 2001-07-29


Police tightened security in Jerusalem Sunday, amid fears of possible violence surrounding the activities of a small, ultra-nationalist Jewish group, which held a ceremony to commemorate the destruction of the biblical temples by the Romans 2,000 years ago.

Police prevented the group, known as the Temple Mount Faithful, from holding the ceremony at a sensitive spot sacred to both Jews and Muslims, amid fears that it could spark Palestinian riots.

To prevent the outbreak of violence, the group was escorted by police to a gate of Jerusalem's Old City, outside the sensitive Temple Mount compound, known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif.

The group laid a 4.5 ton conerstone, symbolizing the third temple, outside the compound, not directly over the temple ruins.

The cornerstone was then removed.

Muslim and Palestinian leaders had predicted that violence would erupt, if the group were allowed near the sensitive site. Palestinians had urged Muslims to gather at the mosque to prevent Jews from laying the cornerstone there. Clashes broke out last September, when Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon, who at that time headed the opposition, visited the site with a large police presence.

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