Mus­lims refuse to en­ter Aqsa site

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Is­rael re­opened an ul­tra­sen­si­tive holy site yes­ter­day that was closed af­ter an at­tack that killed two po­lice­men, but Mus­lim wor­ship­pers were re­fus­ing to en­ter due to new se­cu­rity mea­sures in­clud­ing metal de­tec­tors and cam­eras. Crowds chanted “Al­lahu Ak­bar” (God is Great­est) as a num­ber of ini­tial vis­i­tors en­tered Jerusalem’s Haram Al-Sharif com­pound. The flash­point holy site in­cludes the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Calls to prayer rang out from Al-Aqsa, but dozens of Mus­lim wor­ship­pers held mid­day prayers out­side the site in protest at the new se­cu­rity mea­sures. Around 150 peo­ple gath­ered out­side for prayers later in the af­ter­noon. Po­lice said some 200 peo­ple en­tered the com­pound. “We re­ject the changes im­posed by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment,” Sheikh Omar Kiswani, Al-Aqsa di­rec­tor, told re­porters out­side. “We will not en­ter through th­ese metal de­tec­tors.”

Some women wailed and cried while telling peo­ple not to en­ter. Wa­heeb Liftawi, 52, prayed in­side Al-Aqsa at mid­day with­out know­ing of the calls to re­main out­side. Dur­ing prayers later in the af­ter­noon, he prayed out­side.

“Th­ese things should not be put in front of a place of wor­ship, a mosque,” he said. “This is why we refuse this or this will be­come the sta­tus quo.” Later in the day, a fu­neral pro­ces­sion sought to en­ter with a cof­fin but was not al­lowed through.

Three Arab Is­raeli as­sailants opened fire on Is­raeli po­lice Fri­day in Jerusalem’s Old City be­fore flee­ing to the com­pound, where they were shot dead by se­cu­rity forces. Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties said the gun­men had come from the flash­point holy site to carry out the at­tack. It was one of the most se­ri­ous in­ci­dents in Jerusalem in re­cent years. Is­rael took the highly un­usual de­ci­sion of clos­ing the Al-Aqsa mosque 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 and an­nounced they would re­open the com­pound yes­ter­day. Po­lice said yes­ter­day that so far two gates lead­ing to the holy site had been opened, equipped with metal de­tec­tors.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu spoke of the se­cu­rity mea­sures late Satur­day be­fore de­part­ing for a trip to Paris. “This evening I held a dis­cus­sion with the top se­cu­rity lead­er­ship and I in­structed that metal de­tec­tors be placed at the en­trance gates to the Tem­ple Mount,” he said. “We will also in­stall se­cu­rity cam­eras on poles out­side the Tem­ple Mount but which give al­most com­plete con­trol over what goes on there.” — AFP

JERUSALEM: Mus­lim wor­ship­pers, who re­fused to en­ter due to new se­cu­rity mea­sures in­clud­ing metal de­tec­tors and cam­eras, pray yes­ter­day as Is­raeli bor­der po­lice­men stand out­side Lion’s Gate, a main en­trance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque com­pound. — AFP

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