Al-Aqsa Mosque chief criticizes Israeli police bans at Jerusalem site

Several employees from Waqf, the Muslim trust that administers Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque, have been banned by Israeli police from entering the mosque's walled compound, a Waqf official said Monday.

Sheikh Omar Kiswani, director of al-Aqsa Mosque, told dpa that police have given orders over the past two weeks to 10 employees, including administrators and guards, that forbid them from going inside the compound, some for periods of up to six months.

One administrator, Bassam Hallaq, director of projects, was arrested for several hours last week for allegedly carrying out work inside the holy compound without police permission.

Under a status quo agreement at the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, only Muslims may pray on the platform housing al-Aqsa Mosque as well as the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple.

Jews may visit but not pray on the platform. Instead, they may pray at a nearby ancient retaining wall, known as the Wailing Wall.

"The police measures are an attempt to terrify the officials and guards to prevent them from carrying out their duties," said Kiswani, warning that these measures also aim to change the status quo.

An Israeli police spokesman said Monday that he was not familiar with the Palestinian complaints.

Palestinian officials and Jordan - the official custodian of al-Aqsa Mosque - have always vehemently opposed any changes to the status quo at or near the Muslim site. Israel denies any attempts to change it.

Last update: Mon, 08/08/2016 - 14:34
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