Israel Briefly Detains Head of Islamic Authority, Bans Him from Al-Aqsa (VIDEO)

Israeli police briefly detained the head of the Islamic authority that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli police briefly detained the head of the Islamic authority that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem early on Sunday following recent protests there.

Sheikh Abdelazeem Salhab was appointed to head the Waqf by neighboring Jordan, which strongly protested the arrest.

Jordan’s minister of Islamic affairs, Abdul Nasser Abul al-Basal, said the Israeli action was “dangerous and an unacceptable escalation” that affected Jordan’s role as the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, according to the Petra news agency.

Israeli police confirmed the arrest on Sunday, and the Waqf later said police had released Salhab and prohibited him from entering the site for a week.

Waqf officials told Israeli daily Haaretz that Salhab’s arrest was unusual.

The official was quoted as saying.

“He’s the most senior Jordanian figure in the [Palestinian] territories. Twenty years ago [if] the police wanted to interrogate the mufti, they would call and invite him, but coming to a 75-year-old’s home like that at 5 am is unacceptable.”

The arrest came after Palestinians on Friday prayed at an area by the Al-Rahma gate, located inside occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, for the first time in 16 years.

It is a passageway of gates and a stairway leading to a hall that had been closed by Israeli authorities for years and was reopened on Friday by Muslim religious officials. The hall is located a short distance from Al-Aqsa Mosque itself.

The Israeli authorities closed the area in 2003. In 2017, an Israeli court upheld the closure order.

But on Friday, the Religious Endowments Authority, a Jordan-run agency mandated with overseeing East Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites, announced the reopening of the mosque.

Salhab opened the doors of the hall, and worshipers performed Friday prayers there.

Israeli police accused the Al Waqf of attempting to change the status quo at the sensitive site by convening in the closed area.

(AJE, PC, Social Media)

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