The Israel Police has ended its siege of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, allowing Muslim worshippers to enter the mosque for prayers yesterday evening.
One of the mosque’s guards, who preferred not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli police withdrew from the Al-Aqsa compound yesterday, adding that dozens of worshippers were subsequently able to pray freely.
The Israeli police had imposed a siege around the Dome of the Rock – located inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound – demanding that the mosque’s guards turn themselves into the Israeli authorities. Firas Al-Dibs, an employee of the Waqf (the religious endowment which administers Al-Aqsa compound) said that tensions had broken out after the mosque guards refused to allow an Israeli policeman – who was wearing a Jewish kippah (head covering) at the time – to enter the Dome of the Rock.
“The Dome of the Rock guards asked the policeman to remove his kippah before entering the mosque, but he refused and insisted on entering by force. The guards closed the mosque’s gates and sealed themselves inside as the police waited outside to arrest them,” Al-Dibs explained.
Earlier director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, said the Israel Police bears full responsibility for the escalation that took place on the compound, adding that the police are trying to impose a new reality in the grounds which is “absolutely unacceptable”.