Toronto - Israel’s re-opening of the Al Aqsa mosque compound is not going smoothly as large groups of Muslim worshippers have been refusing to enter the mosque through newly installed security measures.
Toronto – Israel’s re-opening of the Al Aqsa mosque compound is not going smoothly as large groups of Muslim worshippers have been refusing to enter the mosque through newly installed security measures.
Protesting the installation of metal detectors and cameras on the holy site, worshippers resorted to praying outside the compound, amid chants of “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Greatest.”
Some female worshippers were moved to tears as they urged others not to pass through the new security measures.
Speaking with reporters, Al Aqsa’s director, Sheikh Omar Qiswani, rejected “the changes imposed by the Israeli government,” and declared “We will not enter through these metal detectors.”
He added that “We will not receive the Al-Aqsa mosque, except as it was.”
Turkish news agency, Anadolu, quoted Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld telling reporters that “We will also install security cameras on poles outside the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa compound] but which give almost complete control over what goes on there. I decided that as of tomorrow, in the framework of our policy of maintaining the status-quo, we will gradually open the Temple Mount, but with increased security measures.”
Confirming the presence of Israeli workers in the mosque, Islamic Waqf spokesman, Firas Dibs, also pointed out that an unprecedented cleaning of the mosque had also been carried out Sunday morning.
The Waqf, which manages the mosque,also revealed that Israeli police confiscated keys to the site stationed dozens of additional officers outside the main mosque.
The Al Aqsa compound, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, was closed Friday night after the shooting deaths of two Israeli police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City. Police tracked three alleged Palestinian perpetrators to the mosque compound where they subsequently shot and killed them.
Al Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam and also revered by Jews who call it Temple Mount. Jews are permitted to visit the mosque but are forbidden to pray at the site to avoid stirring up any possible conflict.
Palestinians have expressed concern that new security measures on the site would signal an Israeli grab for more control of the compound. A statement from Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promised that existing agreements regarding the governorship of the site “will be preserved.”