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Palestinian officials meet to discuss Al-Aqsa restrictions following Jerusalem attack

July 16, 2017 9:03 P.M. (Updated: July 17, 2017 11:12 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian officials held a meeting on Sunday to discuss recent Israeli measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, days after a deadly shooting attack led to the death of three Palestinian citizens of Israel and two Israeli police officers -- also Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

The meeting, which took place in the office of Mahmoud al-Aloul, the deputy chairman of the Fatah party, in Ramallah, included Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein, Palestinian Authority (PA) Deputy Prime Minister Ziyad Abu Amr, PA Governor of Jerusalem Adnan al-Husseini, Minister of Endowment Yousif Ideis, Palestinian general intelligence commander Majid Faraj, PA preventive security service commander Ziyad al-Rih, Fatah commissioner Jamal Muheisin, and Fatah Revolutionary Council Secretary-General Majid al-Fitiyani.

Fatah spokesman Munir al-Jaghoub said the officials present at the meeting "affirmed" that the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Old City of Jerusalem should remain as it was before the deadly shooting, expressing opposition to the Israeli decision to install metal detectors at the entrances of the compound.

After discussions with “top security leadership,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Saturday additional security measures at the holy site, including the installation of the metal detectors as well as additional security cameras outside the compound.

Sunday's meeting in Ramallah also led to the appointment of a committee to examine the extent of damages and possible thefts during Israeli forces’ raids in the Al-Aqsa compound following Friday’s events.

The meeting came as Palestinians reported continued Israeli restrictions at the Al-Aqsa compound on Sunday.

A procession of Jerusalemites carrying the body of a deceased man was pushed back by Israeli soldiers and police officers when they sought to perform funeral prayers at Al-Aqsa, as video footage showed officers beating the mourners with batons at Lions’ Gate, while the Palestinians chanted “with our blood, with our souls, we will defend you Al-Aqsa.”

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, however, claimed in a statement that the funeral procession had been disrupted “by other local residents who tried… to get through the police lines,” adding that “the residents were dispersed,” without mentioning use of force by Israeli police.

Rosenfeld added that “a suspect” was detained in the area “for attempting to attack a police officer,” although it remained unclear whether the detention was tied to the funeral.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) denounced in a statement on Sunday the recent Israeli restrictions in Jerusalem’s Old City, claiming that such measures were “part of Israeli policies applied to create a Jewish majority in the City and part of the Israeli collective punishment policy in the Palestinian territory,” in contravention of international law.

Al-Aqsa and the entirety of the Old City has remained shuttered since Friday to Palestinians who don't reside in the area, while Israelis and tourists have been allowed to enter the Old City.

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.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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