Clashes between worshippers, Israeli police outside al-Aqsa
Jerusalem, July 17 (IANS): Clashes erupted outside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday as Israeli authorities implemented new security measures at the Mosque entrance.
According to media reports, several Palestinians were injured during the clashes.
A video footage broadcast on Israel’s Channel 2 TV news showed anti-riots police beating and kicking demonstrators outside the compound, Xinhua reported. A police statement said one person was arrested for rioting.
The Israeli measures, including CCTVs covering the entire compound, checkpoints and metal detectors at the entrances, were installed after three Palestinian Muslims with Israeli citizenship shot dead two Israel policemen on Friday morning. The gunmen, all from the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm in central Israel, were subsequently shot and killed by the police.
Immediately after the incident, Israel shut down the compound, saying that security forces need to check the site for more militants or ammunition.
It was the first time in 50 years that Israel closed the compound, which is Islam’s third holiest site.
On Sunday, Israel reopened the holy site but required all visitors to undergo security checks through metal detectors that were placed at two gates. Only Muslim residents of Jerusalem were allowed to enter.
The police said they plan to gradually open additional gates, after installing metal detectors.
The Waqf, a Muslim religious authority that administrates the compound, rejected the new measures and refused to hold prayers at the mosque. The Waqf said that the measures were a breach of the status quo.
Omar Kiswani, director of al-Aqsa Mosque, told reporters outside the site that “the closure, the occupation, and the prevention of the call for prayers are all unfair and unjust and constitute a violation of the UN resolutions and the international agreements.”
“We hold the Israeli government responsible for the changes they have made in the al-Aqsa Mosque and taking its control away from us. We will stay outside the mosque until we get back the way it was taken from us,” he said.