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.
#Israeli security forces released the head of Islamic waqaf in #Jerusalem, Sheikh Abdelazeem Salhab, he said “ no measures taken by the Israeli occupation forces will stop us from carrying our duties in al #Aqsa mosque” pic.twitter.com/4tZ069QRAU
— Æźź (@azz________) February 24, 2019
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.
Israel arrests senior Muslim official in Jerusalem
Sheikh Abdelazeem Salhab, a cleric appointed by neighboring Jordan, has been arrested, confirms the authority pic.twitter.com/53ICeuvJjL
— B.Sethia (@sethia_b) February 24, 2019
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.
CONDEMNED BY ALL WORDS
💥 #Israeli forces in a new, and very provocative, step, arresting Sheikh Abdelazeem Salhab, 80 yrs, the highest religious position in #Alaqsa mosque administration in #Jerusalem. #JerusalemIsTheCapitalOfPalestine pic.twitter.com/JdVeDktQ6S
— Dr. Basem Naim (@basemn63) February 24, 2019
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.
#Israeli security forces arrested last night the head of Islamic waqaf in #Jerusalem, Sheikh Abdelazeem Salhab, who is responsible for Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem following recent protests by Palestinians in #Alaqsa mosque
Salhab is appointed by #Jordan. pic.twitter.com/j2qh4W6rqC
— Nasser Atta (@nasseratta5) February 24, 2019
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)