Members of the Arab public expressed outrage following the security measures erected at the entrance to the Temple Mount in the days following Friday's deadly terrorism attack at the site. "The Al-Aqsa mosque is a sacred place belonging to God," said Qalanswa Mayor Abdulbast Salameh. "You should not play around with a mosque, just as you shouldn't do so in a synagogue or a church."
The Jerusalem police will continue to operate on high alert, and despite Muslim protests are to expand the deployment of metal detector gates to all entrance to the Temple Mount.
The Jerusalem police said yesterday that the riots that took place near the entrance to the Temple Mount were initiated by Muslim activists out to cause provocations and prevent other believers from visiting the Temple Mount. After the entrance to the mountain was approved through only two gates, police believe that the opening of the compound's six additional gates on Monday will help ease frictions.
"Metal detectors are not the solution. On the contrary, they can exacerbate the conflict, increase tension and perhaps drag us to places we do not want to reach," said Salameh. "I demand that they be removed immediately and that people be allowed to pray in a normal manner," he said. "When we used to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Muslim name for the Temple Mount—ed), we would not encounter policemen or an electronic door. Even if something extreme happens, the mosque should not become its victim."
Al-Aqsa chairperson Sheikh Farij added: "Those who were in Jerusalem today saw how difficult it is for people to enter the mosque after they have undergone a magnometer test. They could have installed the doors away from the mosque. In practice, this is a provocative act and another act of unnecessary friction." He added that "If someone intends to do harm, they can reach outside the boundaries of the Old City and to do so. We need to calm the area instead of adding more obstacles and points of friction into it.
"We're not the only ones who have to take a hard look at what happened inside the mosque," Farij added. "The police and the forces that are there need to know what is causing harm to others." Farij explained that "Muslims coming to their own mosque isn't a provocation. Someone entering a mosque that does not belong to them is a provocation."
More and more people called on social networks for Muslim worshipers to visit the Temple Mount on Monday. "If we remain silent, we will lose it," one person wrote online, adding: "This is the time to cry out. Nobody has the right to prevent us from praying." Another woman wrote: "We shouldn't work tomorrow. What matters now is that we all be in al-Aqsa, even if they check us, in any way. We cannot give up."
MK Taleb Abu Arar (Joint List) also rejected the metal detector tests. "Netanyahu and his government were apparently waiting for such an opportunity, to carry out their plot and change the status quo. Al-Aqsa is our mosque, and so is the entire compound, which sits on 144 dunams, including the Western Wall. Netanyahu will lead the region into agitation and provocation. We don't want that, we want to feel free to enter the mosque and pray in it.
Referring to Friday's attack, Aby arrar said, "Our path is a nonviolent struggle, a legitimate struggle with the legal means available to us, but certainly not the use of weapons, not in the mosque, not at all."