Thousands of Muslims have flocked to a contested Jerusalem holy site for the first organised prayers in almost two weeks after Israel removed controversial security measures placed at the entrance of the Al Aqsa mosque following a July 14 attack in which three Israeli Arab gunmen killed two Israeli police officers.
Jordan has welcomed Israel’s removal of security installations at a contested Jerusalem shrine, saying that as an occupying power “Israel has no right to impose” changes on the ground.
Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani’s statement on Thursday came after Israel removed metal railings and scaffolding. Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and is one of only two Arab governments to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.
Momani says dismantling the devices was needed to calm the situation.
Palestinians mounted the roof of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place for Muslims, and waved their national flag in celebration.
Earlier in the day, Muslim leaders told worshippers to return to the site, considered holy to Jews and Muslims alike, after Israel removed metal detectors and cameras put in place last week.
Muslim officials had called for a boycott of prayers at the compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and Jews as the Temple Mount, because of the measures and prayed in the mosque’s compound instead.
Throngs are also expected to visit the walled compound in Jerusalem’s Old City for Friday prayers, and Israeli security forces remain on high alert.
Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah both called for mass protests Friday in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Israel had installed metal detectors, additional security cameras and other devices last week after gunmen killed two police officers there in mid-July.
Muslims alleged the security measures were an attempt by Israel to expand control over the shrine, a claim Israel denies. The dispute sparked widespread Muslim protests.