President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Muslims to play their role in protecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Anger has spilled across the West Bank since last week when Israel shut the Al-Aqsa Mosque, venerated by Muslims and Jews — who call the site Temple Mount — following a deadly shootout.
The mosque was reopened after two days, with Israel installing metal detectors and cameras at its gates. Three Palestinians were killed Friday in protests against the Israeli measures around the holy site. Three Israelis were also killed in an attack in a settlement in the West Bank.
Addressing the Justice and Development (AK) Party’s parliamentary group meeting in Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan said: “When Israeli soldiers carelessly pollute the grounds of Al-Aqsa with their combat boots by using simple issues as a pretext and then easily spill blood there, the reason [they are able to do that] is we [Muslims] have not done enough to stake our claim over Jerusalem.”
Erdogan said protection of the Muslim holy site is not a just a matter about whether it is possible to do more to protect but a matter of faith.
“Those who are able to should visit Al-Aqsa. For those who cannot visit Al-Aqsa should send aid to our brothers there.”
Israel’s security cabinet decided late Monday to remove the metal detectors. A statement released after the meeting said 100 million Israeli shekels would be allocated for a new surveillance system using “smart checks” based on advanced technology.
Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque represents the Islamic world’s third-holiest site after the cities of Mecca and Medina.—Agencies