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Top Jerusalem cleric calls for mass Friday protests

TOP JERUSALEM CLERIC CALLS FOR MASS FRIDAY PROTESTS

Mufti Hussein told reporters that Palestinian Muslims should all gather outside the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the weekly Friday prayer.

Jerusalem's top Muslim cleric has called on all of the city's mosques to be closed on Friday to protest new Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Grand Mufti Muhammad Hussein told reporters on Wednesday that Palestinian Muslims should all gather outside the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the weekly Friday prayer.

Protests have been growing since Sunday after the mosque's leadership called on worshippers to boycott new metal detectors installed at the mosque's entrances after a deadly shootout last week.

Thousands of people prayed on the streets outside the mosque on Tuesday evening until they were dispersed by Israeli armed forces.

The Islamic Waqf, the foundation in charge of running the site, has described the new security measures as a violation of the "status quo"-the delicate balance of prayer and visiting rights at the holy site which is also revered by Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.

Israel has, however, defended the controversial new metal detectors, claiming they were no different to security measures at other religious sites in the world.

The protests began after the mosque was reopened on Sunday following a two-day closure in response to the shootout that killed two Israeli police officers and three Palestinians.

The preacher of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ikrema Sabri, was discharged from hospital on Wednesday after he was injured by an Israeli rubber bullet a day earlier.

The imam, who is also a former grand mufti of Jerusalem, was among scores of Palestinians injured during clashes with Israeli forces in east Jerusalem late Tuesday.

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