Published: Sun, July 16, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Palestine denounces ongoing closure of Al-Aqsa mosque

According to the cleric's son, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein was taken to an Israeli police station in Jerusalem's old city following the killing of two Israeli soldiers at the entrance to the mosque's compound.

One of the mufti's bodyguards, Khaled Hamo, said police "entered the crowd and took the mufti".

Two Israeli police officers succumbed to their wounds in hospital, the police chief said, after three Arab citizens of Israel shot them in an attack in a holy site in East Jerusalem on Friday.

Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman in Gaza City, described Friday's shooting attack as "a natural response to Israel's terrorism and its desecration of the Aqsa Mosque".

Al-Azhar strongly condemned the incident of banning worshippers from performing Friday prayer and the closure of the compound of Al-Aqsa.

The three papers highlighted Palestinian, Arab and Muslim reaction to the closure of one of Islam's holiest sites for prayer on a Friday, the Muslim holy day.

To 7: 00 pm local, they opened fire on police officers near a door of the Old town before fleeing to the esplanade of the Mosques where they were slaughtered by the forces of law and order, according to police.

Following negative press coverage of Jordan's statement in the Israeli media, Jordan's King Abdullah II on Saturday night reportedly condemned the Mount violence during a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Israel and the Jerusalem police, in particular, are complicit in violating the ban on non-Muslim worship on the holy esplanade", he added.

The fate of the area is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict and forms the centerpiece of rival Israeli and Palestinian national narratives.

The compound lies in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move that was never recognised by the global community. "This is a decision that aims to deter further attacks and it will be interpreted by most Palestinians as collective punishment".

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres condemned the attack, adding: "This incident has the potential to ignite further violence".

Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions.

Violent clashes on the Temple Mount have been the spark for prolonged and deadly waves of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the past.

"Any Palestinian who resists with any kind of violence risks having [his] home demolished or sealed and [his] entire extended family expelled onto streets".

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