A senior Muslim official in Jerusalem says worshippers won't return to a contested shrine until Israel removes new railings and cameras it installed after a deadly attack there.
Ikrema Sabri said Wednesday that even after Israel removed metal detectors more steps were required. He said mass prayer protests would continue outside the site -- known to Israelis as the Temple Mount and by Palestinian as the Al Haram Al Sharif -- until the gates of the compound were opened and the metal railings and an iron bridge with cameras on it were removed.
Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Committee, said a lawyer on behalf of the Muslim administration of the holy site will be in touch with Israeli police to demand the changes.
Israel installed new security measures after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site. Under international pressure, Israel removed the metal detectors.
Sabri’s statements came after Muslim worshippers held their morning prayers outside Jerusalem's most contested holy site despite Israel's removal of the metal detectors that sparked the protest.
Wednesday's prayers came a day after Israel seemingly capitulated to the demands of protesters. But Muslim religious leaders have called for prayers to continue outside until delicate arrangements at the site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, return to what they were before Israel installed new security measures. Those measures came after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site.
Muslim leaders have alleged that the metal detectors are part of a purported Israeli attempt to expand control over the site.
Israel has denied such allegations, arguing that metal detectors are routine security devices and that the measures are necessary to prevent further attacks. Palestinians claim Israel is trying to expand its control.
The volatile Jerusalem shrine, revered by Muslims and Jews alike, sits at the center of rival Israeli and Palestinian national narratives and has triggered major confrontations in the past.
Jews revere the site, where the two Jewish temples stood in biblical times, as the Temple Mount. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray.
Muslims regard the same hilltop compound as the Noble Sanctuary. Home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, it is Islam's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.