Palestinians ended a boycott and entered a sensitive Jerusalem holy site for the first time in two weeks Thursday after Israel removed controversial security measures there.
Thousands of worshippers streamed into the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, for afternoon prayers on Thursday, according to witnesses.
The Jerusalem site includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
There were initially celebratory scenes as worshippers poured into the holy site with some crying as they entered Islam’s third-holiest site while others shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great).
However clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians erupted shortly after the worshippers entered the site, according to AFP.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 46 people wounded both inside the Haram al-Sharif compound and in the immediate area.
Deadly unrest for two weeks
Muslim worshippers had refused to enter the site for two weeks following Israel’s imposition of metal detectors and surveillance cameras after two Israeli policemen were killed on July 14.
Israeli authorities said the measures, including metal detectors, were needed because the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the compound and emerged from it to attack the officers.
Deadly unrest erupted in the days after the new measures were introduced, with clashes breaking out around the compound and in the occupied West Bank, leaving five Palestinians dead.
Palestinians viewed the move as Israel asserting further control.
But earlier this week, Israel announced the removal of the controversial metal detectors and surveillance cameras. Newly installed railings and scaffolding where cameras were previously mounted were also cleared early Thursday, after which police said all new security measures had now been removed.
In response to the removal of the security measures, Muslim authorities called on worshippers to return.
Jordan blasts Netanyahu’s welcome for Israeli guard
The deal to end the standoff was reached earlier this week following a Monday night phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
The phone call was a bid to end a diplomatic crisis between the two countries over the killing of two Jordanians by an Israeli security guard at an Israeli embassy compound in the Jordanian capital, Amman, last week.
Jordan initially refused to release the guard to Israel while the Israeli government claimed he had diplomatic immunity.
The Israeli guard was finally released in return for an Israeli promise to scrap the controversial metal detectors and security cameras at the Jerusalem holy site, according to observers.
But bilateral tensions remained high, with the Jordanian royal court on Thursday releasing a statement calling on Netanyahu to put the released Israeli guard on trial.
The statement blasted Netanyahu’s behaviour towards the security guard, whom he embraced in a hero's welcome upon his return to Israel, calling it "provocative on all fronts”. Abdullah II noted that the welcome, “enrages us, destabilises security and fuels extremism".
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2017-07-27