Al-Aqsa leaders maintain boycott until all Israeli security removed
JERUSALEM - Religious leaders at Al-Aqsa mosque on Tuesday rejected an Israeli decision to remove some security measures controlling access to Islam's third holiest site, telling worshippers to boycott the site until the return of the status quo.
Israel on Monday night said it would remove metal detectors around the Noble Sanctuary, home to the mosque, which led to a "day of rage" on Friday that left six people dead amid Palestinian claims Israel was trying to cement control.
However, Israel's intention to leave "security measures" at entrances to the site was on Tuesday morning rejected by the Waqf, the administrators of the compound.
"No entry into Al-Aqsa mosque until after... the return of the situation to how it was before the 14th of this month," read a statement.
Witnesses told Middle East Eye the area had been a hive of activity overnight as Israeli forces installed other "security measures".
Ikrima Sabri, the former grand mufti of Al-Aqsa and its spiritual leader, told Middle East Eye: "The issue wasn't solved, Israeli forces removed the metal detectors but they put other dangerous obstacles that change the status quo of the Aqsa mosque.
"Until now we don't have details of what exactly they did, what cameras are where.
"But the director of the Waqf will give us a report on all the violations of the Israeli forces, and then we will decide how to continue our struggle."
After midnight on Tuesday, about 30 Israeli cars and lorries and hundreds of Israeli forces closed the Lion's Gate area, pushing Palestinians back.
Mahmoud, a protester, saw the Israelis remove the metal detectors, but said he saw them installing cameras.
"There were about 70 stands for cameras," he said, "What's going on here is big lie."
Later on, activists told Middle East Eye that Israeli forces asked protesters to leave the area of Lion's Gate and pushed every one out. Some said Israeli forces uprooted trees near the gate.
On Tuesday night, Palestinians continued to pray outside the mosque as a form of protest. Clashes erupted after evening prayers after Israeli forces attacked worshippers, injuring 13 people.
"Israel has removed the recently installed magnetometers and cameras, despite the demonstrated need to enhance security at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in the wake of the murder of two Israeli police officers at the site on July 14," spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.