Israeli authorities to reopen Al-Aqsa Mosque compound


The Palestinian presidency, government and officials have strongly condemned the Israeli escalation at the Muslim holy site warning of grave consequences if Israel continues to violate the sanctity of the holy place.

But police quickly deployed across the hilltop compound, scuffling with Palestinians in the area, as they searched for the assailants.

The office of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement Tuesday afternoon condemning the "dangerous Israeli escalation in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque" - a reference to the entire span of the Temple Mount compound - and calling on the worldwide community to urgently intervene to force Israel to reopen the site after an Arab terror attack earlier in the day on the Israel Police station in the compound. "Tampering with holy sites, especially al-Aqsa Mosque, is a direct call for violence".

The Waqf, a Jordanian-appointed body that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has staged periodic prayer-protests since late February to call for the reopening of the building. Other entrances to the Old City remained open.

The incident further heightened tensions at the flashpoint site, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and gold-topped Dome of the Rock.

Recent weeks have seen an uptick in violence on the Temple Mount.

Violent altercations have erupted on several occasions over past weeks as thousands of worshipers have forced their way in to the contested area for Friday prayers.

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It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognized by the worldwide community.

Access to the Golden Gate was closed in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada over alleged militant activity there, police say.

Jordanian officials reportedly suggested closing the Bab al-Rahma building for an indefinite period while it undergoes renovations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu joined in the chorus of condemnation, calling on "the whole world to react to Israel's brazen attacks on our sacred lands" in response to the decision to close off the Temple Mount, and added that the USA was supporting Jerusalem's "increasing aggression".

Israeli security forces stand guard in front of the Golden Gate, also known as the Gate of Mercy, during a visit to the site by a group of religious Jews to the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, on March 7, 2019.

Last month, the Waqf reopened the site and Palestinian worshipers began to use it as a mosque, despite Israeli attempts to keep the area sealed.

A number of detentions were carried out by Israeli forces across the compound.