Muslims heed calls to avoid Jerusalem holy site
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