The Temple Mount was gradually opened for worshipers on Sunday two days after a deadly terror attack took place there, with additional security measures added at its entrance gates, including metal detectors and security cameras.
Despite being let into the Temple Mount complex without being asked to go through a metal detectors, the heads of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, who arrived at the Gate of the Tribes at around 12:30pm, came back outside and said they were refusing to be subjected to a security check.
The Waqf officials called on worshipers not to enter the complex and organized a protest prayer outside the entrance to the Temple Mount. Some of the protesters called out "In spirit and in blood we will save you, Al Aqsa."
Despite this, some 200 Muslim worshipers have already entered the complex.
Jewish visitors, however, were not allowed into the holy site on Sunday.
"I held a discussion with the top security leadership, and I instructed that metal detectors be placed at the entrance gates to the Temple Mount. We will also install security cameras outside the Temple Mount, in a way that gives us almost complete control over what goes on there," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Saturday night.
In response, the Temple Mount Movement strongly condemned the decision to close the Temple Mount to Jews—while opening it to Muslims—saying, " As expected, and as a continuation of the policy of racial discrimination practiced on the Temple Mount for many years, victims of violence are now paying the price of aggression. It turns out that even after the serious attack and the collapse of the concept of Israeli government control regarding the site, they still don't understand.
"The Temple Mount is property of the State of Israel and until it is recognized as such and believers are permitted access while rioters are removed—the opposite of what is happening now—we will continue to pay a heavy price with the loss of sovereignty and human life."
The Jerusalem District Police has been on high alert added hundreds of officers to reinforce its existing forces in the wake of a terror attack Friday, when three armed Israeli Arabs opened fire from within the Temple Mount complex at Israeli police forces, killing two officers and wounding another.
The Israel Police decided to temporarily close the holy site to visitors and worshipers alike to ensure no more weapons are hidden there. Police forces spent the entire weekend searching for weapons in the Temple Mount complex, while maintaining and respecting the sanctity of the place.
The searches continued on Sunday morning with police discovering numerous weapons including knives, stun grenades, slingshots, heavy chains and clubs.
The decision to temporarily close the Temple Mount was met with harsh criticism and demands to reopen the holy site from the Palestinians Authority, Hamas, the Waqf and Jordan.
The Waqf, Hamas, Jerusalem's Grand Mufti and even Fatah started calling on Muslim worshipers to come en masse to the security barricades set up by the police at the entrances to the Temple Mount and hold Friday prayers there.
"There isn't a force on earth that would prevent them from getting to al-Aqsa and holding Friday prayers," said the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein.
The Grand Mufti was later detained by the police. His predecessor, Ekrima Sa'id Sabri, who currently delivers the Friday sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was also taken for questioning.
Police also detained guards of the Islamic Waqf, the Jordanian body in charge of the Temple Mount, who were at the complex during the attack. They're suspected of knowing there were weapons in the compound and possibly even helping bring them in.
Fearing escalation, Netanyahu called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The prime minister demanded Abbas to stop Fatah's calls on the masses to head to the Temple Mount and to work to prevent any further escalation.
Abbas, meanwhile, condemned the terror attack and demanded the reopening of the Temple Mount, warning of the ramifications of such a move or of taking advantage of the situation to change the status quo. Netanyahu clarified to Abbas there will be no change to the status quo.
Meanwhile, Israel held talks behind-the-scenes with officials in Jordan and Egypt in an effort to explain the decision to close the Temple Mount.
On Saturday night, Jordan's King Abdullah called Netanyahu, urging him to reopen the Temple Mount.
The Jordanian state news agency Petra reported that during their phone call, "King Abdullah emphasized the need to reduce tensions on the Temple Mount, and reiterated the condemnation of the attack and the rejection of violence in all its forms, especially in the holy places. The King called on the prime minister to reopen the Temple Mount for worshipers and stressed Jordan's complete objection to the continued closure of Al-Haram Al-Sharif. He stressed the need to not allow anyone to undermine the security and stability, which could lead to further acts of violence and extremism."
The Prime Minister's Office confirmed the rare phone call, but did not provide any further details.
Jordan criticized the closure of the Temple Mount throughout the weekend, with the Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places minister warning of "Israel's unprecedented and persisted violations of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif sanctity under the pretext of containing violence and tension."
On Saturday night, hundreds of people protested in Jordan's capital of Amman against Israel's closure of the Temple Mount, condemning "Arab silence" and making calls of support for "the warriors of the conquered city."
The Arab League strongly condemned Israel for "continuing its assaults and attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque" and "inflaming the religious conflict and exacerbating terrorism and violence in the region in an effort to thwart any effort and chance for peace."
Last year, the Jordanian Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places Ministry announced the installion of 55 security cameras in the Temple Mount complex "to monitor and document the continued Israeli violations against Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif." But the project was nixed following widespread opposition from the Palestinians.