Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara, – Israel’s decision to remove metal detectors from Al-Aqsa Mosque that offended Muslims is “a step in the right direction, but it is not enough”, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
“Israel is attempting to damage the Islamic character of Jerusalem with new practices every day by taking advantage of the current weakness of Muslims,” Erdogan said during an event to discuss higher education in the Islamic world at the presidential complex in Ankara.
“Those who criticize our country whenever possible suddenly become silent when the issue is Palestine, Jerusalem, or Muslims’ rights or laws,” the president said.
He called on Israel to commit to respecting human rights and Jerusalem conventions.
“We must not close the door of Al-Aqsa against Muslims of the world.”
Erdogan also said Israel should avoid policies that put the region in “a chamber of fire” and stop threatening others if it wants to “live in peace in this world”.
Symbol of peace
The president said the Al-Aqsa Mosque is a symbol of peace that continues to stand tall at a time when other Muslim historical structures are facing ruin and destruction in Syria and Iraq.
“In Syria and Iraq, traces of thousands of years of civilization have turned to rubble…the Mosul library was plundered and the book of thousands of manuscripts in the Baghdad library was either destroyed or stolen.
“However, the symbol of peace [Al-Aqsa Mosque], the Muslim character of Jerusalem, continues to resist the attacks over its historic fabric.”
Anger has spilled across the West Bank since Israel shut East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque following a deadly shootout July 14. The site is venerated by Muslims and Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.
The mosque was reopened after two days, with Israel installing metal detectors and cameras at its gates.
Three Palestinians were killed Friday in protests against the measures around the holy site. Three Israelis were also killed in an attack in a settlement in the West Bank.
Israel refused to remove the detectors, claiming the security measures were similar to procedures taken at other holy sites around the world.
But facing international criticism and pressure, Israel’s security Cabinet decided late Monday to remove the metal detectors. A statement released after the meeting said a new surveillance system using “smart checks” based on advanced technology would be put in place.
Jerusalem is sacred Muslims, Jews and Christians — and the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the Islamic world’s third holiest site behind the cities of Mecca and Medina. (T/RS5/RS1)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)