Israel has gradually reopened the Temple Mount for Muslim prayer after the shooting attack on Friday that killed two Israeli policemen.
Israeli Police opened two gates to Muslim worshipers at 13:00 on Sunday with another three opening today. The Temple Mount was closed for 48 hours after Friday’s shooting attack, the first time Israel closed the compound on a Friday, Islam’s holy day, in nearly 50 years.
Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to introduce extra security measures at the entrance for Muslim worshipers including metal detectors and extra CCTV cameras. Before Sunday, only the Mughrabi Gate, where non-Muslim visitors enter, had a metal detector.
Despite members of the Waqf — the Islamic trust that administers the site — objecting to the installation of security measures and refusing to enter the site, several hundred worshipers went through the metal detectors and prayed on the Temple Mount yesterday.
Sporadic scuffles broke out on Sunday between security forces and Muslim protesters who were trying to prevent other Muslim worshipers from going onto the site.
Sheikh Omar Kiswani, Al-Aqsa director, told reporters: “We reject the changes imposed by the Israeli government … we will not enter through these metal detectors.” The metal detectors and bag searches were being carried out by a private security firm.
Israel Radio reported that 10 people were injured and three were arrested for throwing stones in overnight scuffles with security forces close to the Old City’s Lion’s Gate.
Earlier on Sunday, the White House expressed support for the cabinet decision to temporarily close the al-Aqsa Mosque to Muslim worshipers, stressing that terrorism should be handled with zero tolerance and that it should be uprooted at its source.
Israel has made it clear to the international community that it does not intend to alter the status quo at the holy site. Under the status quo, established after Israel captured the Temple Mount in 1967, the site is managed by an Islamic foundation under the auspices of Jordan — the Waqf – and Israel controls access.