AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

No entry to Jerusalem holy site before inspection: Muslim official

A top Muslim official said Thursday worshippers should maintain a boycott of a sensitive Jerusalem holy site until an inspection has been completed after Israel removed more new security installations overnight.

Sheikh Omar Kiswani, director of the Al-Aqsa mosque, joined Palestinian celebrations outside the compound in the early hours of Thursday after Israel removed the installations.

He was lifted onto the shoulders of joyous Palestinians and given a microphone, then said: "Don't rush my brothers to enter.

"Do not enter until after there is confirmation from the technical committee," he said, referring to a committee of Muslim officials inspecting the mosque compound, which is also holy to Jews.

A meeting was expected to be held on Thursday morning and a decision may be announced afterwards.

A tense standoff has been underway between Israel and Muslim worshippers at the holy site despite the removal of metal detectors on Tuesday, with concerns of major unrest later this week if no resolution is found.

Newly installed railings and scaffolding where cameras were previously mounted had also been removed early on Thursday from at least one main entrance to the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, an AFP journalist reported.

The compound encompasses the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

The crowds grew larger overnight, with some holding up a large Palestinian flag outside Jerusalem's Old City.

Israel installed the new security measures after an attack nearby that killed two policemen on July 14.

Muslims have refused to enter the site and have prayed in the streets outside for more than a week after Israel installed the new security measures.

Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site.

Israeli authorities said the metal detectors were needed because the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the site and emerged from it to attack the officers.

Deadly unrest has erupted since the new measures were introduced, with clashes breaking out around the compound and in the occupied West Bank, leaving five Palestinians dead.

A Palestinian also broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank last week and stabbed four Israelis, killing three of them.

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