Mus­lims heed calls to avoid Jerusalem holy site

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Jerusalem - Mus­lims heeded calls on Mon­day not to en­ter a Jerusalem holy site and protested out­side af­ter Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties in­stalled metal de­tec­tors at en­trances to the ul­tra-sen­si­tive com­pound fol­low­ing an at­tack 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.

The Haram al Sharif com­pound, known to Jews as the Tem­ple Mount, in­cludes the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque.

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, a Pales­tinian who now lives in the US state of Ari­zona and was plan­ning to visit Al Aqsa, 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 com- pound, where they were shot dead by se­cu­rity forces.

It was among the most se­ri­ous in­ci­dents in Jerusalem in re­cent years and height­ened Is­raeli-Pales­tinian ten­sions.

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 wor­ship­pers to do the same.

Pales­tini­ans view the new mea­sures as Is­rael as­sert­ing fur­ther con­trol over the site. Crowds chanted ‘Al­lahu Ak­bar’ (God is Great­est) as they gath­ered near the Lions Gate en­trance to Jerusalem’s Old City on Sun­day.


The Dome of the Rock in the Al Aqsa Mosque com­pound in the old city of Jerusalem on Mon­day

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