Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound to Reopen on Sunday
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem (al-Quds) will reopen on Sunday, two days after the unprecedented closure heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
Netanyahu's office said in a statement late on Saturday that the compound would be accessible "gradually" for the faithful, visitors and tourists, according to al-Jazeera news network.
The sensitive site was shut down on Friday after three Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were killed following a shooting incident in the Old City.
Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the former grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestinian territories, said on Saturday that the closure was a "collective punishment" that affected thousands of worshippers.
"This is unprecedented. The mosque has not been closed for centuries. The situation is dangerous," said Adnan Husseini, Palestinian Authority's Jerusalem governor, at a press conference on Saturday.
Israeli authorities are "inflating this situation", he said. "We live in a conflict and there's violence almost daily. Palestinians are killed in cold blood almost daily at checkpoints."
Bassam Al Halaq, a senior official of Awqaf, an Islamic authority in charge of Al-Aqsa, said the Israeli police were searching the entire compound, breaking through doors.
"To this point the noble sanctuary remains closed and all chambers inside it are being searched by the Israeli police. If a chamber is locked, the lock is broken. Only three Awqaf employees are allowed on the site, including the chief electrical engineer," he said.
The mosque compound is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif while Jews call it Temple Mount.
In 2015, Israeli soldiers stormed the mosque that resulted in days of violence and clashes. Palestinians fear an increased incursion of Israeli right-wing groups into the mosque compound.
Jordan, the custodian of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, has urged Israel to "immediately reopen" it, while the Arab League called its closure "dangerous".
The compound lies in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move that was never recognized by the international community.