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Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians as thousands pray at Al-Aqsa

Aug. 4, 2017 6:13 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 5, 2017 10:30 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Israeli forces detained five Palestinians after thousands performed Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the aftermath of a two-week long civil disobedience campaign against Israeli policies at the holy site, while Israeli forces raided the neighborhood of Silwan and demanded residents to show Israeli building permits for their homes.

An employee of the Islamic Endowment, or Waqf -- in charge of running Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Rami al-Khatib said that 25,000 Palestinians had performed prayers at Al-Aqsa on Friday.

Al-Sheikh Muhammad Saleem, who gave the Friday Khutba -- an Islamic sermon -- stressed the necessity of heading to Al-Aqsa in order to confirm its place for Muslims. Palestinians have often feared that Israel will implement policies challenging the status quo at the Jordanian-controlled holy site, which prohibits non-Muslim worship.

Following the prayers, Palestinian youths started shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) while exiting the compound, according to a witness. Israeli forces then detained five Palestinians on their way out, including Palestinian photographer Abd al-Fatah Abu Snineh.

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an he was not aware of the detentions.
Israeli authorities shut down Al-Aqsa compound for almost three days following a deadly shooting attack on July 14, only to reopen it after having installed increased security measures.

The Israeli move sparked widespread anger among Palestinians, who perceived the move as further infringement of Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam. After two weeks of protests in which six Palestinians were killed in clashes, the security measures were eventually lifted completely.

However, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have continued to be barred from visiting the holy site if unable to obtain an Israeli permit to enter Jerusalem. Some Palestinians have never been able to visit Al-Aqsa due to Israeli policies shaping its half-century occupation of the Palestinian territory.

In the aftermath of the protests, Israeli forces have cracked down on any Palestinians believed to be involved in the protests, with nearly 50 Palestinians in East Jerusalem being detained this week due to their activities in the Al-Aqsa unrest.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, Israeli forces, escorted by Jerusalem municipality crews, raided several areas in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, and ordered a number of residents to visit municipality authorities to prove their homes were not built without difficult-to-obtain Israeli construction permits.

If the residents are not able to prove this, their homes will be demolished by Israeli authorities. According to UN documentation, 96 Palestinian structures have been demolished in East Jerusalem since the start of the year, displacing at least 166 Palestinians.
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