Israel reopens Al-Aqsa mosque compound

Israel was faced with criticism after it closed the holy site

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Israel announced reopening doors to Al-Aqsa mosque's compound on Thursday, after it had closed it following the shooting of a Jewish hardliner late Wednesday.

Israeli police shot and killed Muataz Hijazi, the Palestinian man suspected of shooting and trying to kill the Jewish activist, but the incident intensified clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli riot police.


Israel had said earlier that the closure of the site was temporary and was aimed at calming tempers after the shooting.

Shortly before the announcement, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki urged Israel to reopen the gates to all worshippers, and condemned the shooting of rabbi Yehuda Glick, an Israeli-American national.

The Cairo-based top Islamic institution, al-Azhar, called the closure of the mosque a “barbaric act” that fuels religious conflicts.

In a statement quoted by the Egyptian state news agency MENA, the Sunni institution called on Muslims and the international community to “immediately step in to stop this barbaric action that exacerbates religious conflict.”

Neighboring Jordan also denounced “closing the gates of al-Aqsa mosque and preventing the faithful from entering,” state news agency Petra reported.

The country’s Islamic Affairs ministry, Hayel Daoud, urged the international community help put pressure on Israel “to raise the terrorist blockade" it had imposed on the compound.

“This is a dangerous escalation by the authorities of the occupation and state terrorism that we can neither accept nor keep silent about,” Daoud said.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called the unprecedented closure tantamount to a “declaration of war.”

(With AFP and Reuters)

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