Palestinians performed dawn prayers outside of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Monday to show their opposition to new metal detectors installed by Israeli authorities at the mosque's entrances, which came in response to a deadly shooting attack at the holy site on Friday. Meanwhile, Jewish Israelis were again allowed to enter the compound freely without the presence of Al-Aqsa's guards.
Dozens of Muslim worshippers, all Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem, refused to pass through the metal detectors and gathered to pray outside of the Lions' Gate entrance to the compound, which was opened Sunday after the compound had been under a rare closure since the attack.
Several Palestinians, both men and women, described the metal detectors as violation of their right to freedom of worship and their right to enter the mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, freely.
Israeli forces had installed a total of nine metal detectors at the Lions' Gate (Bab al-Asbat), the Chain Gate (Bab al-Silsila), and the Council Gate (Bab al-Majlis).
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities reopened the compound to Jewish visitors Monday morning for the first time since the attack. Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the Jewish Israelis were free to roam the compound, as there were no Waqf guards at the site.
Officials from the Waqf, the Islamic endowment that runs Al-Aqsa, expressed their rejection to the new security measures on Sunday, while Israeli authorities had contacted a group of the Waqf guards and ordered them not go to the mosque.
Haaretz quoted a statement from the Joint Committee of Temple Organizations, a lobbying group that seeks to secure Jewish prayer rights at the compound, as celebrating the fact that it was "the first time since the Six Day War Jews are able to go freely to the site, without being hassled by the Waqf," Haaretz wrote.
The right-wing movement reportedly said it applauded Israeli police for "amending the historic wrong" on the Temple Mount -- the Israeli term for the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and praised Israeli police commander Yoram Halevy for his "determination and courage."
The Islamic Jihad movement released a statement on Sunday evening, threatening to make the "Israeli occupation pay a toll" for its aggression and procedures at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"The Palestinian people will not abandon their sacred duty to protect Al-Aqsa and defend their dignity and the dignity of the Jerusalemite people and the Murabitun, in Jerusalem and in Al-Aqsa Mosque."
The movement said that Israel had "taken advantage of the inadvertence of Arabs and Muslims, and their reluctance to carry out a real action to stop the occupation's daily violations of the sacredness of Al-Aqsa Mosque" by enforcing the new "aggressive" security measures.
Palestinian officials held a meeting on Sunday to discuss the Israeli measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, affirming that the status quo at the compound should remain as it was before the deadly shooting, expressing opposition to the Israeli decision to install the metal detectors.
Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, non-Muslims are permitted to visit the site during designated times.
Palestinians have long feared that Israel has been attempting to shake up the status quo at the holy site, in the shape of routine Jewish incursions on the site and right-wing Israeli calls to demolish the mosque and replace it with a third Jewish temple.vv