Muslims avoid Temple Mount
Arab Israelis heed calls by Waqf not to go to mosque in protest against installation of metal detectors following deadly terror attack.
Muslims heeded calls Monday not to enter the Temple Mount and protested outside after Israeli authorities installed metal detectors at entrances to the ultra-sensitive compound following a terrorist
attack at the site that killed two policemen.
The compound was largely empty on Monday apart from tourists and Jewish visitors, with Muslims again praying and protesting outside the site instead of entering through the metal detectors.
Several hundred people could be seen praying outside two different entrances to the site around midday on Monday.
There were protests after the prayer, with crowds shouting: “Aqsa mosque, we sacrifice our souls and our blood.” Police later sought to move them back.
“We will not break the solidarity of the people,” said Jamal Abdallah, an Arab who now lives in the US state of Arizona and was planning to visit the mosque, but changed his mind when he was told of the situation.
Israel installed the metal detectors after Friday’s attack near the holy site that saw three Arab Israelis open fire on Israeli police.
They then fled to the compound, where they were shot dead by security forces.
It was among the most serious incidents in Jerusalem in recent years.
Israel took the highly unusual decision of closing the compound for Friday prayers, triggering anger from Muslims and Jordan, the holy site’s custodian.
The site remained closed on Saturday, while parts of Jerusalem’s Old City were also under lockdown.
Israeli authorities said the closure was necessary to carry out security checks, adding that the assailants had come from within the holy site to commit the attack.
They began reopening it on Sunday, but with metal detectors in place, while security cameras were also being installed in the area.
Al-Aqsa officials have refused to enter and have called on worshipers to do the same.
The officials view the new measures as Israel asserting further control over the site.
Crowds chanted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) as they gathered near the Lions Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday.
On Sunday night, skirmishes broke out between Israeli police and worshipers outside the entrance, with the Red Crescent reporting 17 people wounded.
Both of the slain officers were from the Druze minority, Arabs who belong to an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Israeli Prime Minister Binymin Netanyahu made the decision to install the metal detectors and cameras following a meeting with security officials on Saturday.
He also spoke by phone with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Saturday night before leaving on a trip to France and Hungary.
Abdullah condemned the attack, but also called on Netanyahu to reopen the Al-Aqsa compound and stressed the need to “avoid any escalation at the site”.
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas conveyed a similar message to Netanyahu
when the two spoke by phone on Friday in the wake of the attack.
Proposals to change security measures at the compound have sparked controversy in the past.
A plan developed in 2015 between Israel and Jordan to install cameras at the site itself fell apart amid disagreement over how they would be operated.