Istanbul, July 25 (IANS) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday waded into a security issue at the heart of heightened tensions between Palestinian protestors and Israeli security at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Speaking at the Turkish Parliament, Erdogan called on Muslims to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, which in recent days has witnessed protests and clashes following Israel’s decision to install metal detectors at the compound in the wake of an attack that left two security officers dead, Efe news reported.
“From here I make a call to all Muslims. Those who are able must visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque of Jerusalem as recommended by the Prophet. Those who cannot go should send help to our brothers there,” Erdogan said.
The hardline leader of the Justice and Development party (AKP) welcomed Israel’s decision to begin dismantling the metal detector systems and said the mosque should be protected in the same way as Mecca and Medina, Islam’s first and second holiest sites, respectively.
Erdogan added that he had no problems with the traditions or temples of the Christian and Jewish faiths.
The location of Al-Aqsa mosque is a recurring hot-spot for clashes between Israeli security and Palestinian protestors. Erdogan said it was unacceptable for Muslims going to pray at Al-Aqsa to be treated “like terrorists”.
The unrest that arose following the heightened security presence at Al-Aqsa spurred an uptick in street violence that led to the death of four Palestinians.
Furthermore, three members of the same Israeli family were killed by a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank town of Halamish and violence spilled over into Jordan on Sunday when an Israeli guard at the embassy in Amman killed two Jordanians who launched an attack.