Religious figures and Palestinian politicians called for resistance on Friday morning to what is widely seen across Palestine as an attempt by Israel to control al-Aqsa.
Abdala Athem Salhab, the head of the Waqf counsel which administers the Noble Sanctury site, said: “We are all united and it’s our responsibility to protect the Aqsa mosque – we won’t step back. We are asking Jordan to intervene to remove the doors, otherwise Israel is leading the area to religious war.”
Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Israeli parliament for the Arab List coalition, said it was the duty of Palestinians in Israel and Jerusalem and the West Bank “to act now in order to protect the Aqsa from the Israeli forces. The Aqsa is not only a religion issue but also a political one.”
“Our response to Netanyahu is that we say no to the detectors and we will continue the protest. We hope the Islamic world and the international community take action to stop the violations.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas spoke with Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to Donald Trump, who has been tasked with resolving the Middle East peace impasse, reported Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.
Abbas called on Washington to immediately intervene, saying that the situation was “extremely dangerous and might spiral out of control,” the agency said.
Muslim religious authorities claim the metal detectors violate a delicate agreement on worship and security arrangements at the Jerusalem site and have urged Palestinians not to pass through. Prayers have been held near an entrance to the complex.
On Thursday night, Israeli forces wounded 22 Palestinians at Lion’s Gate, near Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem. According to the Red Crescent, two of those hurt are in serious condition after they were hit by a stun grenade.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has considered removing the devices at the Jerusalem holy site but so far the detectors remain in place.
Abdel-Kader said that the move to instal metal detectors in the compound is a power play on Israel’s part.
“The metal detectors serve no security purpose whatsoever. Rather, their erection is a political play to pressure Palestinians into relinquishing control of al-Aqsa,” he told Middle East Eye.
Israeli police take high positions before Friday prayers (MEE/Lubna Masarwa)
The negotiator added that all of the mosques in Jerusalem will be closed on Friday in an effort to “direct Palestinians toward al-Aqsa”, which he hopes will draw thousands of people.
“With the religious and political sensitivities surrounding al-Aqsa – as a universal sanctuary for Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims – Israel is taking a massive gamble and ultimately, crossing a red line. Undoubtedly, this may have dangerous consequences,” Abdel-Kader said.
Far-right members of Netanyahu’s government have publicly urged him to keep the devices in place at the flashpoint.
Still, Israeli media reports said security chiefs were divided over the issue amid concerns about wider Palestinian unrest in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy places,” the security cabinet said in a statement.
“The cabinet has authorised the police to take any decision in order to ensure free access to the holy places while maintaining security and public order.”