Anger boils over at Al Aqsa site

Israel’s army boosted security on Thursday and braced for possible unrest on the eve of the main weekly Muslim prayers after security measures imposed at a sensitive Jerusalem site angered Palestinians.
Officials were reportedly in talks to defuse the crisis, which followed a deadly attack last Friday on police near the site that includes the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
The controversy over the clampdown including the use of metal detectors at entrances to the Haram al Sharif compound also resonated beyond Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone on Thursday on the issue.
The White House said it was “very concerned” about the tensions and called on Israel and Jordan, the holy site’s custodian, to work towards a solution. UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov also expressed concern and called on “moderate voices to speak up against those who try to fuel tensions”. In the Gaza Strip, Islamist movement Hamas, Abbas’s rivals, called for a day of “rage” on Friday. The new security measures were put in place following the gun and knife attack on Friday last week near the site that killed two Israeli policemen.
Three Arab Israeli assailants fled to the compound after the attack, where they were shot dead by security forces. Israel initially closed the site for two days following the attack in a highly unusual move, shutting it for last Friday’s prayers.
Israel began reopening it on Sunday, but with metal detectors in place to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the compound.
The move angered Palestinians and Muslims who saw it as Israel asserting further control over the site.
Palestinians have been refusing to enter the compound since then.
Hundreds have been holding prayers outside the site, with clashes occasionally breaking out with Israeli police. The weekly Friday prayers draw the largest number of participants, and speculation has intensified over whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will order the removal of the metal detectors.— AFP