Muslims worshipping in Jerusalem streets after call for boycott of Temple Mount over metal detectors
Islamic leaders have called on Muslims to boycott the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in protest after Israel installed metal detectors at the site's entrance gates following a deadly attack there by Arabs last week.
For the first time in decades, Israel closed the site on Friday, after three Arab Muslim Israeli citizens opened fire from the holy compound with automatic weapons, killing two police officers before they were shot and killed.
Israel then reopened the compound to Muslim worshippers on Sunday after imposing new security measures, including metal detectors and additional security cameras.
The Waqf, Jordan's Islamic authority that manages religious affairs at the site, was outraged over the metal detectors, according to AP.
Dozens of worshippers have been praying on the streets near the gate after refusing to enter via the metal detectors.
Israeli police said last night that some 200 Palestinians tried to block a road nearby and threw stones at officers who dispersed them.
On Sunday, Israeli media reported that minor scuffles broke out as some Muslim worshippers tried to stop others from using the gates. But police said that despite the tensions, hundreds of worshippers had entered the compound.
The Waqf, together with other Islamic groups, yesterday issued a statement calling on Muslim worshippers 'to reject and boycott all the Israeli aggression measures, including changing the historical status quo including imposing the metal detectors'.
They called on the worshippers not to enter the mosque through the metal detectors and added that 'if the metal detectors continue to be imposed, we call upon the people to pray in front of the gates of the mosque and in the streets of Jerusalem'.
There were protests in Jordan against Israel over the closure and the installation of metal detectors, despite a peace treaty between Amman and Israel. Jordan was reportedly not consulted about the changes by Israel.
The site in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem is revered by Jews and Muslims alike, and is the scene of tensions between the two faiths. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray, while Muslims regard the same hilltop compound as the Noble Sanctuary, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock and Islam's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
The Jerusalem police commissioner Yoram Halevy said the metal detectors were necessary for the site to reopen. 'I assume that with time they will understand that this is not terrible,' he told Army Radio.
He added: 'When I go shopping on Friday I pass through a detector at the mall. We see them everywhere they have become a part of our lives.'
Since 2015, Palestinians have killed 45 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and attacks using cars.
During the same two year period, Israeli forces have killed more than 254 Palestinians, most of them said by Israel to be attackers while others were killed in clashes with Israeli forces.