JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on developments on a contested shrine in Israel (all times local):
A senior Islamic leader in Jerusalem is urging Muslims to skip prayers in neighborhood mosques on Friday and pray en masse at a major Jerusalem shrine at the center of weeks of tensions.
Abdel Azim Salhab, of the Waqf, Jordan's religious body that administers the site, says "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.
Muslims have been praying in the streets outside the shrine to protest Israeli security measures outside entrances to the site that were put in place following a deadly Palestinian shooting assault there earlier this month.
The Waqf official spoke Thursday after Muslim officials told the faithful to return to pray inside the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews, after Israel removed the security devices.
A senior member of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government has criticized Israel's dismantling of security devices outside a major Jerusalem shrine.
Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, warned that Israel's capitulation could spell more violence.
He told Army Radio that "every time the state of Israel folds in a strategic way we get hit with an Intifada. You seemingly benefit in the short term but in the long term you harm deterrence."
Islamic leaders in Jerusalem told the faithful to return to pray inside the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews, after Israel removed security devices it installed outside entrances to the shrine following a deadly Palestinian attack at the compound.
Israel's decision to add the security measures there outraged Muslims and triggered protests and violence.
Muslim leaders in Jerusalem are telling the faithful to return to a holy site to pray after Israel removed security devices it installed there.
The leaders said Thursday morning they will enter the contested site soon.
The leaders met after Israel removed an overhead metal bridge and railings it recently installed outside the shrine after a Palestinian attack at the compound. It dismantled metal detectors there earlier this week.
Thousands of Palestinians have been praying in the streets outside the shrine after religious leaders told them not to worship inside the holy compound in protest.
The Islamic militant group that rules Gaza is hailing as a "victory" Israel's removal of security measures outside a major Jerusalem shrine.
Izzat Risheq, a senior Hamas leader, on Thursday tweeted that Palestinians achieved a "historic victory." He said "Today, our people celebrate the removal of the gates (security measures), tomorrow they will celebrate the removal of the occupation itself."
Risheq made the comments after Israel removed the new security measures it installed earlier this month outside a major Jerusalem shrine, holy to Muslims and Jews, after Palestinian gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site.
Muslim leaders are telling worshippers to continue praying outside a contested Jerusalem holy site until they decide how to proceed after Israel removed some security measures it installed following a deadly Palestinian attack.
The director of Al-Aqsa mosque, Omar Kiswani, said a meeting of Muslim leaders would be held later Thursday morning.
Israel removed an overhead metal bridge and railings at an entrance to the site, meeting a demand by Muslim protesters. Earlier this week, Israel removed metal detectors there.
Israel installed the new security measures after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site earlier this month. It said they were necessary to prevent more attacks. Palestinians were outraged by the move and claimed Israel was trying to expand its control over the site, a charge Israel strongly denies.
Israel has removed an overhead metal bridge and the railings it had recently installed near a contested Jerusalem holy site, meeting a demand by Muslim protesters and causing thousands of Palestinians to celebrate in the streets.
Muslim leaders say they will decide later in the day Thursday whether worshippers can return to the shrine for prayers and end a crisis that Israel hoped it had resolved by making concessions at the site.
The head of the Supreme Islamic Committee, Ikrema Sabri, had said previously that worshippers would not return to the shrine until Israel removed the new railings and cameras it installed after a deadly attack there.
Israel installed new security measures earlier this month after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site.
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