This is the first time Palestinians have entered the Al Aqsa Mosque since Israel banned them from entering the area two weeks ago.
Israeli police braced for further violence Friday ahead of the main weekly Muslim prayers at a Jerusalem holy site, a day after clashes with Palestinians when worshipers ended a boycott over Israeli security measures.
Muslims’ celebratory return to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque turned sour Thursday afternoon when clashes abruptly broke out between Israeli forces and young Palestinians.
The complex houses the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine, but it is also where the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple are located.
Speaking at the rally, Ramazan Kayan from Anatolia Students’ Union said al-Quds is a source of pride and honor for Turkey, and the “people in Turkey share the grief and pain of Palestinian people”.
“We just want to pray undisturbed”, a Palestinian told DW correspondent Tania Krämer in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordan-run organization responsible for overseeing the city’s Islamic sites, said Israeli authorities had now agreed to lift such restrictions. “We control ourselves. No one is controlling us”. In response, Muslims refused to enter, with thousands of people gathering to hold prayers in the streets.
Israeli security forces followed the worshippers in from the Bab Hutta gate and fired stun grenades, sound bombs and tear gas.
“The police deployed dozens of Israeli officers at the gates, closed down the holy compound, and prevented Palestinians from praying at the mosque”, he added.
A live video posted on Facebook showed hundreds of Palestinian worshippers performing the sunset prayer inside the compound.
The site’s religious authority encouraged worshippers to attend after saying Israel had removed the controversial new security measures.
Israel is “playing with fire and will only ignite a religious war and shift the core of the conflict from politics to religion”, Mr Aboul Gheit claimed.
“Everyone must understand that the Palestinians will never let anyone dirty our al-Aqsa Mosque”, said Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in an emailed statement. “If this does not happen because of legal interpretation, I will work to legislate the laws required to remove Al Jazeera from Israel”.
Violent clashes have erupted anew between Israeli security forces and Palestinians outside the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, near a flashpoint holy site.