Palestinians, this evening, removed a metal gate which Israeli police had placed at the entrance to a building in Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Bab al-Rahmeh, on Sunday, and held prayer in the area, according to witnesses.
Dozens of worshippers held the prayers at Bab al-Rahmeh, one of the gates of Al-Aqsa compound, in Jerusalem’s Old City district, in a show of defiance of Israeli attempts to prevent Muslims from being in that area, and after calls were made to hold all five daily prayers at Bab al-Rahmeh.
Palestinians fear Israel is planning to turn that area and the building into a Jewish temple in the heart of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, after Jewish fanatics were seen, in recent days and weeks, holding religious rituals under police protection, in that area.
Police had also attempted to keep Muslim worshippers away from the area at all times, provoking the strong Palestinian reaction to the closure of the metal gate, as a result.
Confrontations broke out inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday, between Israeli police and Palestinians who attempted to remove the gates, leading to several injuries and around 16 arrests.
An Israeli court, on Wednesday, freed 14 of the Palestinian detainees on condition of staying away from the Old City of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque for 60 days, except for those who live in the Old City but still ordered not to be in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in addition to paying around $400 in bail, according to Mohammad Mahmoud, an attorney with the Prisoners Commission.
Two were remanded in custody until Friday, he said.
WAFA further reports that Israeli police, on Wednesday, detained a woman who is active in defending Al-Aqsa Mosque, at her Jerusalem home, and summoned another woman for interrogation. Both women, Hanadi Halawani and Khadija Khweis, have been targeted before, by the police, held in detention several times and ordered to stay away from Al-Aqsa for many weeks.
The Islamic Waqf, which is in charge of Al-Aqsa Mosque, has vowed to push for free Muslim worship at Bab al-Rahmeh, as part of Al-Aqsa compound, despite the Israeli ban.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.