World Bulletin / News Desk
"Metal detectors and other restrictions should be immediately lifted and returned to the status quo. Everyone should be guard against provocations at this sensitive time," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a written statement.
“As the summit term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], I call for the international community to act to immediate end practices that restrict freedom of worship.”
Erdogan said that Israel shutting down the Al-Aqsa compound last week for three days, and then imposing new restrictions -- including placing metal detectors at the entrance -- and citing the deadly July 14 shootout to justify this, is "unacceptable."
"As OIC Term President, I condemn Israeli forces’ use of excess force on our brothers gathered for Friday prayer, the Friday prayer not being allowed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and Israel’s persistence in its attitude despite all warnings," he said.
Erdogan added: "I wish Allah's mercy upon our three brothers who lost their lives” in yesterday’s violence.
He also wished a speedy recovery to the hundreds of wounded, saying that Turkey is against every type of violence.
He called on Israel to respect the holiness and historical status of the Al-Aqsa compound, saying this is its legal duty.
- Anger over restrictions
Anger has spilled over across the West Bank since last week when Israel shut the Al-Aqsa Mosque, revered by both Muslims and Jews, who call it Temple Mount, following a deadly shootout.
The mosque was reopened after a two-day closure, with Israel installing metal detectors at the mosque gates, which Palestinians say aim to change the status quo -- a delicate balance of prayer and visiting rights.
Israel, for its part, has refused to remove the detectors, claiming the security measures are similar to procedures taken at other holy sites around the world.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.
It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming all of Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s "eternal" capital -- a move never recognized by the international community.
Sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Jerusalem is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which for Muslims represents the world's third-holiest site.