Egypt summoned the Israeli envoy in Cairo to the Foreign Ministry on Thursday to protest against excavations by the Jewish state near Jerusalem's most sacred Muslim shrine.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement it told the Israeli ambassador, Shalom Cohen, that the excavations could hurt efforts to revive the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
"The Foreign Ministry also stressed that the sacredness of the site makes any movement inside or around it a very sensitive issue for Arab and Muslim peoples, in a way that could cause the situation to explode," the statement said.
Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, on Wednesday called the Israeli excavations a "sinful aggression" and appealed for global action to protect the shrine, Islam's third holiest site.
Tantawi is the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar mosque, one of the oldest and most prominent seats of Muslim religious thinking.
Israeli police go on high alertThe police have increased their alertness throughout the country, and particularly in Jerusalem, in light of growing tensions surrounding excavation works near the Temple Mount.
In a meeting held by Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi Thursday, it was decided to increase the alert level in the capital ahead of the Friday noon prayers.
Police officials fear that Palestinians will attempt to carry out terror attacks in response to the Mugrabi Gate dig, and that riots will break out in the capital and other places.
Karadi has ordered police and Border Guard forces to deploy in massive numbers in crowded places, open markets, shopping areas, and main traffic routes along the seam line Friday.
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski invited Adnan Husseini, head of the Muslim waqf, for a meeting following the tensions surrounding the construction works near the Temple Mount.
Lupolianski said that the coexistence in Jerusalem can only be maintained through dialogue.
Avi Cohen contributed to the report