Friday, November 24 2017

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Israel removes more security installations at sensitive holy site

Update: July, 27/2017 - 11:30
Palestinians celebrate outdid the Lion’s Gate entrance to Al Aqsa mosque on Thursday after more Israeli barriers were removed from the holy site. — AFP/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

JERUSALEM — Israel has removed more security installations from the entrance to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site after protests and deadly unrest in recent days, prompting Palestinian celebrations early on Thursday.

A tense standoff has been underway between Israel and Muslim worshippers at the holy site despite the removal of metal detectors on Tuesday, with concerns of major unrest later this week if no resolution is found.

Newly installed railings and scaffolding where cameras were previously mounted have now also been removed from at least one main entrance to the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, an AFP journalist saw early on Thursday.

It was unclear whether Muslim authorities would now grant approval for worshippers to re-enter the site, which houses the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Palestinians began to gather at the entrance to celebrate in the early hours of Thursday, with whistling and constant horns from cars.

Young men set of firecrackers as Israeli forces watched closely.

Firas Abasi said he felt like crying over the "victory".

"For 12 days no one has slept, no one has done anything except the Al-Aqsa mosque," he said.

Israel installed the new security measures after an attack nearby that killed two policemen on July 14.

Muslims have refused to enter the site and have prayed in the streets outside for more than a week after Israel installed the new security measures there.

Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site.

Israeli authorities said the metal detectors were needed because the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the site and emerged from it to attack the officers.

Clock ticking 

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who announced a freeze on contacts with Israel last week over the dispute, said on Tuesday the suspension would continue until the site was returned to the way it was before the crisis began.

Israel’s decision to remove the metal detectors came after Netanyahu held talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II, who had demanded their removal.

In a telephone call on Wednesday, Abdullah and Abbas "stressed the importance of continuing coordination to bring the situation back to what it was before the outbreak of the crisis and ensure the historical and legal status of the Holy Mosque is respected", Jordan’s Petra news agency reported.

A top aide to US President Donald Trump earlier this week held talks in Jerusalem on the crisis.

The clock has been ticking, with last week’s Friday prayers having brought the situation to a boil.

Concerned with the potential for unrest, Israel barred men under 50 from entering Jerusalem’s Old City for prayers last Friday.

Protests and clashes erupted later in the day. The deadly stabbings of three Israelis came the same day. — AFP

 

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