Israel weighs removal of metal detectors at heart of religious row

Prayer on the streets of Jerusalem

The Palestinian Fatah party called for a "day of rage" on Tuesday (18 July) in response to new Israeli safety measures at a Jerusalem site that serves as an important place of worship for both Jews and Muslims.

The attackers, believed to be Israeli Arabs, were also killed, Israel then closed off the area, preventing Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque.

It called for the rejection and boycott of "all the Israeli aggression measures, including changing the historical status quo including imposing the metal detectors".

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Clashes erupted Wednesday shortly after the afternoon prayers near the Lions Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem, where up 200 Muslim worshippers gathered to pray.

In a shooting attack on Friday morning, three Palestinian Muslims with Israeli citizenship shot dead two Israel policemen near the gates of the compound. MK Ahmed Tibi said the metal detectors should be removed, calling them a provocation that "alters the status quo".

Similar call was issued by Palestinian Authority President and Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, which was followed by a night of riots in East Jerusalem, leaving 50 Palestinians and one police officer hurt. Police said they had been attacked by protesters armed with stones and Molotov cocktails. On Sunday the police made a decision to open the Mount compound once again, but insisted that the Muslim worshipers pass through metal detectors stationed at the entrances. Palestinians sources reported dozens of injured, while two police officers were lightly injured.

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Though the Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site, neither Jews nor Christians are permitted to pray there, a privilege reserved for Muslims only. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming all of Jerusalem as the Jewish state's "eternal" capital - a move never recognized by the global community.

"We will not enter through these metal detectors", he added. During that period, Israeli forces have killed more than 255 Palestinians, a lot of them said by Israel to be attackers while others were killed in clashes with Israeli forces. Any perceived changes to the delicate arrangements at the site can spark tensions.

Palestinians view the new measures as Israel asserting further control over the site.

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At the meeting, scheduled for 8 p.m., officials are set discuss whether to remove the detectors that were placed at the Temple Mount after the killings that were launched from within the holy site.

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