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Israel reopens Temple Mount after Friday shootings

Stefanie Jaerkel, DPA on

Published in News & Features

TEL AVIV, Israel -- A Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims was reopened Sunday after increased security was put in place after deadly shootings at the site Friday.

Muslim worshippers will be allowed to enter the site, a police spokeswoman said, adding that turnstiles with metal detectors had been installed at the entrances of the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

But employees of the Jordan-based Waqf authority, which oversees the site, protested against demands they also go through the security controls. Sheikh Omar Awadallah Kiswani, director of the al-Aqsa mosque, argued that this was a change of the status quo and, eventually, his employees were allowed to skip the controls.

The site is sacred to both religions, as it houses the al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock shrine, and also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple. Questions about control of the site frequently lead to fighting.

The continued tension over the Temple Mount has renewed calls in the Israeli government to make sure it retains control of Jerusalem's holiest sites. Ministers met Sunday and voted in favor of a rule change that would increase the majority -- to 80 legislators -- needed to allow Israel to give up any area where Israel has sovereignty.

Such a move would require parliamentary approval.

On Friday, two Israeli police officers were killed and another was injured when three men opened fire on security officers working at the site. The attackers were also killed.

Israel then closed the area, preventing Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Police said the attackers were Israeli Arabs. The dead officers were Druze.

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