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Muslim imam slams Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa mosque

MUSLIM IMAM SLAMS ISRAELI POLICE MEASURES AT AL-AQSA MOSQUE

A senior Muslim imam Sheikh Ikrema Sabri has slammed Israeli police searching at Al-Aqsa mosque and he added the reward for anyone who prays at the checkpoint will be like the reward for praying inside Al-Aqsa.

Palestinians refusing to accept Israeli police searches in order to pray at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque are rejecting Israeli attempts to impose its sovereignty over the holy site, a senior Muslim imam said on Monday.

Sheikh Ikrema Sabri, an imam at the mosque, backed protests by Palestinian Muslims, who have prayed outside the gates of the mosque since metal detectors were installed at the site.

The standoff began on Sunday, when the mosque was reopened after an unprecedented two-day closure imposed in response to a deadly shootout which Israeli police said was to search for any weapons inside.

Sabri joined other Al-Aqsa officials in calling for Palestinians to not pass through the metal detectors.

"The reward for anyone who prays at the checkpoint will be like the reward for praying inside Al-Aqsa," he said.

"By refusing to enter through the metal detectors we will show we reject any measure by the occupation authority, which has no right to change the status quo."

He claimed the detectors were the latest attempt by Israel to change the delicate balance of prayer and visiting rights, known as the status quo, at the site which is revered by both Muslims and Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.

The decades-long arrangement allows only Muslims to pray at the site, which is run by an Islamic foundation overseen by Jordan.

Israel says the new security measures, which will also include surveillance cameras mounted on tall poles outside the compound, are to prevent violence after Friday's attack which killed two Israeli police officers and three alleged Palestinian attackers.

Sabri also accused Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan of "bravado and arrogance" for claiming on Sunday that Israel has sovereignty over security around the holy site and rejecting complaints made by Jordan and other Arab countries.

Erdan told Israeli Army radio: "Israel holds sovereignty over the Mount, no matter what other countries' positions are and if we decide that a certain move has a certain advantage, then it is carried out."

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