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.
— Ian James Lee (@ianjameslee) July 27, 2017
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.
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.”