Israeli police closed and cancelled Friday noon prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque and briefly detained Jerusalem’s top Muslim cleric after three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers were killed in a shootout in the mosque compound.
Sheikh Mohammad Ahmed Hussein, who decried the mosque closure, was taken into custody from the Bab Al-Asbat area (Lion’s Gate) after leading an open-air prayer nearby.
“Israeli police detained my father in a violent manner and took him to unknown destination,” said Omar, the grand mufti’s son.
Hussein was later released on $2,800 bail.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Jerusalem’s Old City, said it was the first time in decades that the compound closed for prayers on Friday.
“Of course this has the potential to increase tensions among the about 10,000 Palestinians who normally come here for worship,” Fawcett said.
Sheikh Omar Keswani, a religious official at Al-Aqsa, decried the closure and cancellation of Friday prayers.
“Forbidding the Friday prayer is an unfair procedure,” Keswani told Al Jazeera. “What happened earlier is now being taken advantage of by the Israeli right to impose a new reality in Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Haj Khalil Abu Elsheikh, 77, travelled 100km from Beer-sheva to attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque.