Israel has announced new security measures around Al-Aqsa
The Jordanian-run authority in charge of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque has denounced an Israeli plan to form a new police unit for the holy site.
Last week, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Israel will establish a 200-strong special police force, which would be equipped with “advanced technology” and based around Al-Aqsa compound.
In a statement on Monday, the Waqf, an Islamic foundation responsible for the flashpoint holy site, called Erdan’s announcement a “declaration of war on two billion Muslims”.
The Israeli government promised new steps would be taken in response to a deadly shootout at the site in July, when two police officers and three attackers were killed.
The Israeli government initially responded by installing metal detectors at the entrances but backed now, while still insisting on alternative measures, after two weeks of protests in Jerusalem by Palestinians who refused to pass through the metal detectors.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem — in which the Al-Aqsa is located — during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the entire city in 1980, unilaterally claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.