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Temple Mount site open to Jewish visitors for first time since terror attack

Israeli police walk past the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount on May 16, 2017
THOMAS COEX (AFP)
Majority of Muslim worshipers still refusing to enter the compound through newly-installed metal detectors

Jerusalem's Temple Mount fully reopened on Monday morning after a full and then partial closure in the wake of Friday's terror attack which killed two police officers at the flashpoint site. Pictures posted on social media showed a group of around 20 religious Jews visiting the compound on Sunday morning, which is permitted under current regulations if they do not pray.


The fatal shooting of two Israeli police officers at the holy compound prompted Israel to implement an exceedingly rare blanket closure of the site to visitors and worshipers and the cancellation of Friday prayers for the first time in decades. The site was re-opened to Muslim worshipers around midday on Sunday, but with the implementation of new security measures at the entrances to the site, including metal detectors and surveillance cameras.

The Jordan-based Waqf, an Islamic trust that governs the Temple Mount compound, accused Israel of taking control over the ultra-sensitive site and disrupting the delicate balance between Israeli and Muslim control of the holy complex.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, currently in France to mark the 75th anniversary of the rounding-up of Jews for deportation during World War II, told reporters accompanying him on the trip that the new measures will remain in place, and denied that it constituted a change to the fragile 'status quo' at the site.

Police announced on Sunday afternoon that some members of the Waqf refused to enter the site through the newly-installed metal detectors at the entrance, but that some later entered without passing through the machines. Eyewitnesses said that many worshipers also refused to walk through the machines, and some people who approached the gates were yelled out at by a restive crowd, before retreating. While earlier in the day it was reported that hundreds entered the site after passing the security checks, during the early evening prayers only a trickle went through versus hundreds standing outside, chanting.

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Night prayers on Sunday were carried out by a restive crowd and ended in scuffles.

It appeared that the boycott continued into Monday morning, with an i24NEWS reporter on the scene saying that the majority of worshipers were still refusing to pass through the metal detectors into the compound.

PA disapproval

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held an urgent meeting with senior advisers to discuss the new measures, the Times of Israel reports.

The discussion, held on Sunday evening in Ramallah, concluded with officials stating that the status quo at the site must not be disrupted and that Israeli changes, including for security reasons, were unacceptable.

According to the Times of Israel, the group of officials included Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy head of Abbas’s Fatah faction, Palestinian general intelligence commander Majid Faraj, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein, PA preventive security service commander Ziyad al-Rih and a number of officials from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.

Jordana Miller/i24NEWS

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