Israel shut off access to the al Aqsa mosque compound following weeks of tensions
15 March, 2019, 02:32
Police said they evacuated the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, after a Molotov cocktail damaged a police post. At least three suspects were arrested, and police were seen wrestling a woman to the ground. "Tampering with holy sites, especially al-Aqsa Mosque, is a direct call for violence".
Police forces sealed all entrances and exits in search of perpetrators, which sparked violent clashes at the scene.
The Israelis then shut the compound's gates and prevented Palestinians from entering the Old City through the Damascus Gate, a major entrance to the ancient walled area. "All doors are closed and no one is allowed in", he said.
The Palestinian Presidency, meanwhile, has condemned the reported escalations.
The statement called on the worldwide community to break its silence and to promote its positions from condemnation throughout leaflets and statements to practical actions by the United Nations resolution.
The closure of the sacred compound also drew censure from Jordan, the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
The Waqf, the Islamic endowment body tasked with managing the holy site, said that the compound had been opened for dawn prayers attended by worshipers without incident. "We will continue to act to restore calm on the [Temple Mount]".
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Videos spread online of scuffles between police and Palestinians before the site was cleared, according to AFP.
Access to the Golden Gate was closed in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada over alleged militant activity there, police say.
Demonstrations have devolved into standoffs with police in recent weeks.
Israel has barred several guards and high-ranking officials from the Waqf from the compound and arrested dozens of Palestinians under suspicions of inciting violence at the site.
Kilani stressed that Jordan, which is the custodian of Jerusalem's holy sites, is sticking to its principles towards what has been entrusted to it, despite the hard choices faced by Jordan, Jerusalemites and the Awqaf Department, whose employees and guards face an unprecedented and fierce campaign of expulsion for various periods, according to Petra.
His office said it has been in communication with a number of parties including Jordan, in an effort "to pressure the occupation's government to halt this risky escalation".
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