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Police say Muslim worshipers returning to pray at Al-Aqsa

19 July 2017

Israel shut down the holy site and installed checkpoints and metal detectors at its entrances after three Palestinian Muslims with Israeli citizenship shot dead two Israel policemen on Friday morning.

Fatah leaders said that Friday prayers, when many Palestinians travel to the Jerusalem holy site, would instead be conducted in public squares in protest and sermons dedicated to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the venerated Muslim house of worship that sits within the site's compound.

Palestinian Muslims protest outside the entrance to the old city of Jerusalem as it is partially blocked by Israeli Police on July 17, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. Protesters, denied entry to the site, can be seen praying outside.

At midday, Israeli police opened two of the gates to the compound to allow worshippers to enter through the newly erected detectors. It includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. But despite concerns that the new measures could slow movement and spark renewed tensions, police said they appeared to be working fine and that 200 people had already passed through.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said more than 50 people were injured during the imbroglio.

Israeli authorities said the gunmen had come from the flashpoint holy site to carry out the attack.

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Jerusalem Grand Mufti Mohammed Ahmed Hussein criticised the new measures as altering the status quo, which gives Muslims religious control over the site and permits Jews to visit but not pray there.

Witnesses said Israeli police officers on horseback assaulted worshipers, who tried to approach Lions' Gate of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinian political party Fatah called on Palestinians to participate in day or rage on Wednesday in protest of Israel's decision to place metal detectors in front of the Temple Mount.

During the same two year period, Israeli forces have killed more than 254 Palestinians, a lot of them said by Israel to be attackers while others were killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

The statement also described the Israeli actions as a blatant aggression practiced in the absence of any action by Arabs and Muslims to stop Israel's daily violations of the sanctity of al-Aqsa Mosque. The sovereignty over the compound, and by extension, Jerusalem, is one of the focal points of Israeli and Palestinian national narratives and among the obstacles in peace negotiations.

Police say Muslim worshipers returning to pray at Al-Aqsa