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After being detained by Israeli forces during prayer, Jerusalem mufti released on bail

July 14, 2017 6:45 P.M. (Updated: July 14, 2017 9:36 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Late Friday afternoon, after hours of detention, Israeli authorities released the grand mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein on a bail of 10,000 shekels ($2,813).

Hussein was detained by Israeli forces early Friday afternoon while he was performing prayers among a crowd of Muslim worshipers who had been forced to pray on the street after Israeli forces closed off the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the wake of a deadly attack Friday morning.

The Islamic Endowment (Waqf) -- which administers the compound -- said in a statement that Hussein was detained outside the Lions’ Gate entrance to the Old City, adding that 58 of its employees had also been detained following the attack, which left two Israeli police officers and three Palestinian assailants dead.

Earlier in the day, Hussein had told Ma’an that Israeli forces had prevented him from entering Al-Aqsa from multiple entrances following the attack, noting, like many other Palestinian leaders, that it was the first time that Israel had prevented Muslims from performing Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa since 1967.

"We insist on reaching the Al-Aqsa Mosque and performing prayers there,” Hussein told Ma’an at the time, prior to his detention. “The occupation preventing us from praying marks an assault against our right to worship in this pure Islamic mosque."

Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, non-Muslims are permitted to visit the site during designated times.

Israeli forces nonetheless regularly escort Jewish visitors to the compound, who often carry out Jewish religious rituals and prayers at the site, leading to tensions with Palestinian worshipers.

Palestinians have long feared that Israel has been attempting to shake up the status quo at the holy site, in the shape of routine Jewish incursions on the site and right-wing Israeli calls to demolish the mosque and replace it with a third Jewish temple.

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