March 20, 2018

Palestine denounces ongoing closure of Al-Aqsa mosque

16 July 2017, 06:28 | Darnell Patrick

Since Friday's attack, in which three Israeli-Arabs killed two Israeli Druze police officers near Lions Gate just outside the Temple Mount complex, tensions have been steadily increasing, with Muslim leaders calling for Israel to reopen the site.

The esplanade is revered by jews as the Temple mount. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the attackers were from the Israeli Arab city of Um El Fahm and were Israeli citizens. "The entire incident began and ended" at the holy compound, he told channel 10 TV.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone later as tensions rose over the attack and its aftermath. He says the status quo governing the site "will be preserved".

Border Police guard the entrance to the Temple Mount. 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.

The site includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948. The leaders have nearly no direct contact.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres condemned the attack, adding: "This incident has the potential to ignite further violence".

Police are investigating how the weapons were brought into the site.

In addition, the Hamas terror group on Saturday described the closure of the site as a "religious war" and called for attacks against Israelis.

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They had been armed with guns and knives, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin, rapporteur of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament, wrote a post on social media calling on the global community to set punishments for Israel, as it has "executed unarmed Palestinian citizens, without a trial". He said the family was in shock over the shooting.

The regime's creation, he said, "did not change things qualitatively and really gave them fresh machinery to carry out terrorism against the people of Palestine".

Friday noon prayers mark the highlight of the Muslim religious week.

The entire old city of Hebron is under Israeli control, and the mosque was converted into a military post.

Netanyahu had said the compound could reopen Sunday after security was assessed, and rejected Jordan's criticism. Israeli authorities then shut the compound down citing security concerns, just hours before Muslim Friday prayers.

The Israeli occupation's municipality in Jerusalem yesterday approved the construction of 800 new settlement units in the city's occupied Palestinian territories, Israel's Maariv reported.

The Jerusalem shrine has been the scene of repeated confrontations.

In addition to the developments in Jerusalem, the papers also highlighted the Israeli army killing of a Palestinian in Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem during early morning clashes following an army raid of the camp to arrest activists.

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