Rabat - After the “unprecedented” closure of the mosque compound on Friday, following the shooting deaths of five people, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the site will re-open “gradually” starting on Sunday.
Rabat – After the “unprecedented” closure of the mosque compound on Friday, following the shooting deaths of five people, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the site will re-open “gradually” starting on Sunday.
The closure was prompted on Friday when two Israeli police officers were shot and killed in Jerusalem’s Old City. The three alleged Palestinian perpetrators fled the scene of the shootings to the Al Aqsa mosque where they were shot and killed by responding Israeli police.
Al Aqsa’s custodian, Jordan, urged Israel to “immediately re-open” the mosque and, in a statement issued by Netanyahu late Saturday night, a gradual re-opening of the mosque compound starting on Sunday was confirmed.
According to the official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas strong condemned the incident in a phone call with the Israeli prime minister. As well, he rejected “any act of violence from any aide, especially in places of worship.”
On Saturday, the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem governor called the closure “unprecedented,” saying “the mosque has not been closed for centuries. The situation is dangerous.”
This was the first time in nearly fifty years that the mosque, called Temple Mount by Israel, had been closed to worship. Palestinians resorted to praying in the streets in response to the closure.
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, Jerusalem’s mufti, spent a brief time in detention on Friday following an attempt on his part to access the mosque’s compound. In the end, he held open-air prayers nearby. He was released on bail the same day.
The attack raised a discussion in the Israeli Knesset regarding security at the site. Right-wing members of parliament called for stepped up measures in light of the incident, causing concern among Palestinians that any such move could signal an eventual shift in the status quo at Al-Aqsa.
Netanyahu, however, has promised that existing agreements regarding governorship of the site “will be preserved.”