By ISRAEL HAYOM

Jerusalem Police units stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound early Monday and prevented dozens of masked assailants from carrying out a planned attack. The assailants had amassed on Temple Mount with rocks and fireworks with the intention of confronting police and disrupting the peace.

Overnight, the assailants gathered weapons and prepared Molotov cocktails inside the mosque. They also barricaded it by nailing shoe racks to the doors and creating obstacles with metal rods, wooden beams and barbed wire affixed to doors. Inside the mosque they built structures out of wood and wire mesh to be used as shields for rock throwers and fireworks shooters.

But the police, operating on gathered intelligence, surprised the rioters and foiled their scheme. The police arrived early, armed with riot gear, removed the obstacles and locked the assailants inside the mosque.

“The Jerusalem Police will continue to take decisive and firm action against law breakers and bring them to justice,” a police statement said Monday. Despite the potential clash, it was decided to leave the Temple Mount open to visitors.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visited the Temple Mount following the incident, telling reporters that “the officers of the Jerusalem police force were on the mount to prevent a planned attack on worshippers. The units are still deployed in the area in order to ensure the safety of the residents and the visitors in the city.”

Earlier in the day, Knesset Interior Committee Chairwoman MK Miri Regev criticized the police, saying: “The police’s weak responses to Muslim rioters on Temple Mount over the years led to a situation where there is no law and no enforcement for Muslim law breakers.”

Last week, three police officers were injured by thrown stones and fireworks when clashes broke out on the Temple Mount on Wednesday.