Amid tensions, Israel detains 2 guards at Al-Aqsa mosque

Jerusalem: Israeli police on Sunday detained two security guards at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque complex, amid mounting tensions.

According to Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority, a Jordan-run agency tasked for overseeing the city’s Muslim and Christian holy sites, one guard was arrested after he stepped out from Al-Majlis gate, one of the gates situated in the Al-Aqsa mosque complex. The guard was taken into custody for questioning, Anadolu News Agency reported.

Israeli police detained the second guard while entering the mosque, said Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson of Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority.
It is yet to be ascertained why the two guards were detained, which came hours after an Israeli court had extended the closure of Bab al-Rahma mosque, which is situated in the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, according to Anadolu News Agency.

The Bab al-Rahma mosque was first shut down by Israeli authorities back in 2003. A court here had extended the closure order in 2017.

Tensions have been escalating in Jerusalem since February, when Israeli police briefly sealed Al-Aqsa mosque’s Rahma gate, located next to the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City and clashed with worshippers, triggering large-scale protests by angry Palestinians.

Security has been beefed up and Israeli authorities have barred Palestinians from entering Al-Aqsa mosque, which is considered as the world’s third holiest site by Muslims.