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Middle East

Muslims enter Jerusalem holy site Al-Aqsa mosque, for first time in two weeks

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Jerusalem : Jerusalem’s Muslim community has been told it can return to praying inside the Al-Aqsa compound after Israel removed the latest security measures from the entrance to the holy site.

Speaking Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that prayers would take place at noon, leading to the conclusion of a boycott of the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
He added that a meeting of the Palestinian leadership would be held afterward “to discuss other decisions taken in response” to the removal of the security measures.
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque say they are satisfied with Israel’s removal of security measures.


Muslim religious leaders have called upon worshippers to enter through all gates collectively for afternoon prayers on Thursday.
They also called for all mosques in the area to shut down on Friday and direct worshippers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque instead.
The announcement came after Israeli police said cameras that were installed at the site have been taken down, two days after metal detectors were also dismantled.

Sheikh Omar Kiswani (2-L), Al-Aqsa director, and other clergymen join as Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray outside Jerusalem's Old City.

Sheikh Omar Kiswani (2-L), Al-Aqsa director, and other clergymen join as Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray outside Jerusalem’s Old City.

Israel installed metal detectors and security cameras close to the entrance to the sacred site following an attack in which two Israeli police officers were killed.

The Jordanian Authority in charge of the site, the Islamic Waqf, encouraged worshippers to return to prayers Thursday morning inside the compound.

Waqf leaders had not entered al-Aqsa to pray after Israel’s decision to install new security measures, and many Muslims follow the lead of the Waqf.

Previous declarations from political and religious leaders had increased the likelihood of widespread demonstrations in and around Jerusalem following Friday’s midday Muslim prayers. The demonstrations often turned into clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli soldiers, fueling a wave of unrest instead of defusing the situation.

According to police, three of the nine gates leading up to the site are open, with the remaining entrances set to be opened gradually.

The security measures are now the same as they were before the July 14 attack at the site.

“Overnight, throughout the evening, yesterday all the remaining structures and cameras were removed from the area, which were set up after the terrorist attack,” Israeli police told CNN.

“At the moment that’s the situation on the ground. Police are in and around different areas in the Old City. We are making security assessments leading up to Friday prayers.”

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Middle East

Gaza protests : 4 killed, 618 injured

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

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Gaza protests

Jerusalem, June 9 (IANS) Four Palestinian protesters were killed and 618 others wounded by Israeli soldiers on Friday during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border, officials said.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the Health Ministry spokesman in Gaza, said Zeyad al-Briem, 25, and Haytham al-Jammal, 15, were killed in east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, while Emad Darabieh, 26, was shot dead in east of Jabalia in northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, Yousef al-Faseeh, 29, was killed in east of Gaza City, Xinhua reported.

Among the injured Palestinians, 117 were hit with live gunshots, 60 with tear gas inhalation, and 77 by bullets shrapnels or tear gas canisters, said al-Qedra.

The clashes, which broke out on Friday afternoon, were part of the 11th Friday “Great March of Return” held by Palestinians in Gaza since March 30. More than 120 Palestinians have been killed so far.

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The Palestinian organisers called the latest rally “the Friday of the One-million-men March for Jerusalem”.

Local media reported that thousands of Palestinian demonstrators joined the protests at five different spots in eastern Gaza.

Hundreds of kites carrying Molotov cocktails flown by demonstrators landed on Israeli agricultural fields and caused large fires.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

Five journalists were injured, including AFP photographer Mohamed al-Baba, who was shot in his right foot, and a cameraman working for the al-Aqsa Radio of Hamas, who was hit with a tear gas canister in his back, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

The Ministry also accused Israeli soldiers of firing tear gas at the medical workers who were treating the injured protesters.

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Middle East

Israel begins building marine barrier with Gaza

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

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Avigdor Liberman

Jerusalem, May 28 (IANS) Israel’s Defence Minister on Sunday announced that construction had begun on a marine barrier with the Gaza Strip extending into the Mediterranean Sea.

Avigdor Liberman said in a statement that the barrier aimed to prevent any attempts by Palestinians in Gaza to enter Israeli territory through the sea, Efe news reported.

“This is an additional setback for Hamas, which has lost another strategic capability that it has invested massive amounts in developing. We will continue to protect the citizens of Israel with might and sophistication,” Liberman said.

The barrier is to consist of three layers, one of which is to be underwater, and is expected to be completed within a year, the statement added.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, members of the military wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that governs the Gaza Strip, managed to swim to Israeli territory and launch an attack on a Israeli army installation before being killed.

Israeli authorities are also constructing an underground barrier beneath the Gaza-Israel boundary to stop Hamas from digging tunnels into Israeli territory.

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

An independent inquiry into the 2014 war in Gaza by the UN Human Rights Council concluded that “the tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF (Israeli army) positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets.”

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Middle East

US drone strikes kill 11 IS militants in Afghanistan

The drone strikes were launched on Sunday. Two IS militants were also wounded and three vehicles were destroyed after the raids.

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Kabul, May 28 : At least 11 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed after US and NATO-led coalition forces launched airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, authorities said on Monday.

“The drone strikes were launched on Sunday. Two IS militants were also wounded and three vehicles were destroyed after the raids,” an Army statement said.

Also on Sunday, Afghan Army helicopters struck and destroyed two heroin factories in Khogyani district, reports Xinhua news agency.

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