JERUSALEM – Israel's security officials warned Thursday of plans by Jewish extremists to attack Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site in an attempt to prevent a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (search) this summer.
Muslim leaders say they consider Sunday's rally a provocation, and have said they would bring thousands of worshippers to the area. Police have closed the shrine to Jews, but fear confrontations could erupt nearby between Muslims and Jews.
In recent months, Israel's Shin Bet security service has warned increasingly that extremists could try to attack the shrine. Thursday's warnings were unprecedented in their severity.
"There are fears of an attack on the Temple Mount," Amos Gilad, a senior Defense Ministry official, told Israel Radio. "We have to use all means available, including unprecedented ones, to prevent any attack on the Temple Mount."
Gilad did not give specific scenarios, but confirmed it could include an attempt to put an Israeli flag on one or both of the mosques at the shrine. He said any disruption or attack could have far-reaching consequences and lead to regional violence. "The repercussions would be dangerous, not could be," he said.