Jerusalem's Muslims return to pray at al-Aqsa amid clashes


The worshippers returned for midday prayers for the first time in almost two weeks after Israel removed controversial security measures from the entrance to the holy site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and Jews as the Temple Mount.

Israel closed the Muslim holy compound o July 14, following an attack outside its gates that left two Israeli policemen dead in addition to three alleged Palestinian attackers from Umm Fahem, a town inside Israel.

A 19-year-old Palestinian broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on July 21 and stabbed four Israelis during a Sabbath dinner, killing three of them.

More than 100 Palestinians have been injured after Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and sound bombs at worshippers who returned to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the first time in almost two weeks.

The security measures outraged Muslims and triggered protests, and low-level clashes have continued in and around Jerusalem since then, highlighting the deep distrust between Israel and the Palestinians over the holy site.

"We praise this stand in the past two weeks outside Al-Aqsa and we want this stand to continue outside Al-Aqsa and now inside Al-Aqsa،" he said، urging worshippers to return to the site.

Chaotic scenes unfolded as Israeli police used stun grenades to try to control crowds charging forward when the last gate Muslims use to enter Al Aqsa was opened after a stand-off lasting several hours.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also gave the green light to return to the holy site after the 12-day boycott, and according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Abbas reassured Palestinians that everything had returned to the way it was before the attack. Police are in and around different areas in the Old City.

Ikrema Sabri says Wednesday that even after Israel removed metal detectors more steps were required. They are seen by the Palestinians as a violation of the status quo at the Muslim-run compound and an Israeli attempt to gain more control over the site.

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Subsequent to the Temple Mount attack, Israel installed metal detectors at the site, with protests and further terror attacks following.

He added that "the days of the Ottoman Empire have passed".

Speaking from occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera's correspondent Imran Khan said that he saw Palestinians being brought out of the compound's gates injured.

Israel captured Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war.

The Palestinians said the violence began when police began beating up sweet sellers who were trying to bring candies into the compound and angry youths responded by throwing stones.

On Tuesday, the Israel Police posted an image on Twitter, showing that metal detectors had been removed from the entrance to the mosque area.

Palestinian political factions were quick to claim a rare victory over Israel after Netanyahu pulled the extra security measures.

He told Premier he hopes the removal of the security is a true and honest move by the Israeli government to promote unity.