By IAN DEITCH and MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH
JERUSALEM Muslim leaders told the faithful to return to pray inside a major Jerusalem holy site on Thursday after Israel removed security devices it installed outside entrances to the shrine following a deadly Palestinian attack at the compound.
Thousands of Palestinians had been praying in the streets outside the shrine to protest the security measures since the crisis began.
“After extensive discussion and after achieving this victory in this round we call on our people in Jerusalem and inside (Israel) and anyone who can access the Al-Aqsa Mosque to enter … en masse,” the Islamic leaders declared in a statement.
The head of the Supreme Islamic Committee, Ikrema Sabri, said the first prayers would be held there Thursday afternoon.
Abdel Azim Salhab, of the Waqf, Jordan’s religious body that administers the site, said “We call on Imams to close all mosques in Jerusalem Friday in order for all worshippers to pray Friday prayer in Al-Aqsa mosque only.”
Friday prayers are the highlight of the Muslim religious week. Thousands of Muslims from around the country and Palestinian areas typically worship at the holy compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Slahab said all devices had been removed from the entrances but didn’t know if security cameras that had been mounted on the wall of the compound were also dismantled. He said if they are there then “we reject it.”
Israel installed the new security measures earlier this month after Palestinian gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site.
It said the security measures were necessary to prevent more attacks and are standard procedure to ensure safety at sites around the world. Palestinians claimed Israel was trying to expand its control over the site.
The issue sparked some of the worst street clashes in years and threatened to draw Israel into conflict with other Arab and Muslim nations.
Palestinians danced, chanted “God is Great” and set off…