Israeli forces completely sealed off the Al-Aqsa compound for the first time in decades late Wednesday following the shooting of a far-right Israeli activist in Jerusalem.
Hundreds of Muslim worshipers performed dawn prayers in the streets outside the holy site after Israeli forces closed all entrances.
Only the director of the Al-Aqsa compound and security guards were allowed in. The Muezzin, who leads the call to prayer, was also denied entry.
“It is unacceptable that the Al-Aqsa Mosque pays a toll for the events in Jerusalem. The mosque is a place for prayer and worship and all Muslims have the right to access it,” the director said.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli police, Luba al-Samri, said that the decision was taken after evaluating the security situation following the attempted murder of Yehuda Glick.
Palestinian minister of endowment Sheikh Yusuf Deis said that this was the first time the mosque had been completely sealed off since 1967.
The minister said it was a “conspiracy” aimed at dividing the mosque, and criticized the move as violating the rights of Muslim worshipers.
Some 500 students, who study in religious schools inside the compound, were also denied entry.
Israeli restrictions on Muslim prayer at the holy site have caused tensions over the past few weeks, leading to regular clashes in East Jerusalem.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is sensitive for Palestinians due to its status as the third holiest site in Islam and its location in the heart of the Old City of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its “eternal, undivided capital,” but the international community sees East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory and the capital of a future Palestinian state. MAAN NEWS