S. Africans stand in solidarity with Al-Aqsa Muslims

Posted July 22, 2017

Muslim worshipers and Israeli police clashed Friday in Jerusalem's Old City after new security measures were put in place at the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Troops set up checkpoints on the highways leading to Jerusalem and closed other roads to vehicles and set up roadblocks in the Old City's alleyways and roads leading to the Lion's Gate (Bab al-Asbat), only allowing those over 50 or women any age to enter the Old City.

There have been daily confrontations between Palestinians hurling rocks and Israeli police using stun grenades since the detectors were placed at the entrance to the shrine, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, on Sunday, after the killing of two Israeli policemen.

In response, Israel began installing metal detectors, a move Muslim religious leaders and Palestinian politicians allege is part of an Israeli attempt to expand control at the site.

Palestinians have been refusing to enter the compound all week in protest at the metal detectors.

Thousands of Muslim worshippers traditionally attend Friday prayers at Al Aqsa.

Speculation had been mounting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might order the metal detectors removed before this week's prayers.

Members of Netanyahu's right-wing coalition have been pressuring him to leave the metal detectors in place and "ensure security" at the site. Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said developments regarding the al-Aqsa mosque were disrupting and unacceptable.

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The Islamic Hamas movement and other Palestinian factions and political powers called Friday "a day of rage in support for the mosque". "We urge all leaders and people of good faith to be understanding as this process proceeds and reaches its conclusion", it continued.

Turkey's president has called on Israel to remove metal detectors from the gates of a contested Jerusalem holy site.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, called for calm.

Israel closed the site for two days following the attack, angering Muslims and Jordan, the site's custodian.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Sunni Muslims, after the cities of Mecca and Medina.

The events come in wake of an attack by a gunman that killed two Israeli policemen outside the compound.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas protested the metal detector installation to the USA administration, calling on President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner to push the president to "intervene urgently".

He said Mr Abbas discussed the growing tensions in Jerusalem in a phone call with Donald Trump's Middle East adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.