Palestinians celebrate outside the Lion's Gate entrance to Al Aqsa Mosque, after Israeli barriers were removed from the holy site.
Palestinians celebrate outside the Lion's Gate entrance to Al Aqsa Mosque, after Israeli barriers were removed from the holy site.

Palestinians will return to pray at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque on Thursday afternoon for the first time in nearly two weeks, its authorities said, after Israel removed remaining new security measures.

Muslim elders announced their decision after a report from the Waqf, a Jordanian-backed body that oversees the Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem. A top Muslim official had said earlier that worshippers should maintain a boycott of the Jerusalem holy site until an inspection had been completed.

"The Islamic religious authorities in Jerusalem call on Palestinians to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque to perform the afternoon prayer," an official of the Waqf told reporters.

"The technical report showed that all obstacles the occupation [Israel] put outside Al Aqsa Mosque were removed," the head of the Waqf, Abdel-Azeem Salhab, said. "We praise this stand in the past two weeks outside Al Aqsa and we want this stand to continue outside Al Aqsa and now inside Al Aqsa."

Israel installed metal detectors, cameras and other measures following a July 14 attack in which two policemen were shot dead. But through these steps, Israel was materially changing the sensitive status quo in the area, which has governed movement and religious practice for decades.

Days of violent protests have resulted in the death of five Palestinians and three Israelis.

Before the announcement, factions had been calling for a Day of Rage on Friday, which would likely have further fuelled the conflict.

TRT World's Editor-at-Large Ahmed al Burai has more on the story.

Israel's decision to remove the security measures comes after days of diplomatic efforts by the United Nations, pressure from countries in the region, including Turkey and Jordan, and a visit by US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy.

The Noble Sanctuary contains the Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam, and the golden Dome of the Rock. The site is also revered by Jews as the site of two ancient temples and is known as Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism.

Backing from the Palestinian Authority

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas backed calls for worshippers to return to Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque on Thursday after Israeli authorities removed controversial new security measures.

"The prayers will happen, God willing, inside the Al Aqsa Mosque," Abbas said after Muslim authorities announced an end to a nearly two-week boycott of the site.

The final railings and scaffolding where cameras were previously mounted were removed early on Thursday from the entrance to the Haram al Sharif compound, two days after the metal detectors were dismantled.

The Palestinian leadership suspended security coordination with Israel over the new measures. Abbas said Thursday it had not yet taken a decision on whether to renew it.

"For now we will talk only about the afternoon prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque and afterwards have a meeting to decide or study the rest," he said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies