The Palestinian terror group Hamas called for mass protests on Friday against metal detectors placed at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem.
In a televised speech Thursday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urged Palestinians to participate in a “day of rage” against the stepped up security measures, which were imposed after three Arab-Israeli gunmen killed two Israeli policemen in a terror attack at the site last week.
Friday prayers on the Muslim holy day are the busiest time in the week at the Temple Mount with tens of thousands expected to arrive at the compound.
Israel initially closed the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, as it searched for further weapons. The compound, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, was reopened Sunday with metal detectors installed, a step Palestinians protest as a change to the longstanding status quo. The Temple Mount is the holiest place to Jews as the site of the biblical temples.
Haniyeh said “al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem are a red line,” and that “the closure and punitive measures on Jerusalemites and sanctuaries will not be allowed.”
The increased security measures were taken after police said the three attackers who emerged armed from the compound and shot at police on Friday had stashed their weapons on the holy site.
On Thursday, police released video footage showing how the killers and an accomplice got the guns into the Temple Mount compound.
Muslim worshipers have been protesting daily the new security measures, saying the move breaks the status quo agreement between Jerusalem and Amman, a charge Israel has rejected.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party also organized a “Day of Rage” on Wednesday against the move, with rioters clashing with Israeli police at sites around Jerusalem.
Waqf officials have boycotted the site in protest and have called on other Muslims to do the same. Several clashes have broken out following protest prayers next to the metal detectors.