The Latest: Police block journalists from parts of Old City
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the escalation in Israel and the Palestinian territories over a contested Jerusalem holy site (all times local):
Israel’s police force is acknowledging it is preventing journalists from entering parts of the Old City of Jerusalem as part of its efforts to lower tensions around a contested holy site.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says Wednesday that “journalists are being prevented from coming in those specific areas where there have been disturbances and riots.” He says it is a decision made by the Jerusalem police district.
Reporters have complained this week that they were being preventing from covering the unrest around the shrine while tourists were able to freely move about the city and film with their mobile phones.
The Foreign Press Association says journalists have been shoved and it has created “a dangerous situation” where accredited journalists were blocked from doing their jobs.
The foreign ministries of Turkey and Israel are trading barbs over the crisis at a holy site in Jerusalem.
Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu on Wednesday accused Israel of making “arrogant” statements after the country’s foreign ministry called remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a day earlier “delusional, baseless and distorted.”
In an e-mailed statement, Muftuoglu “condemned” the Israeli ministry’s comments and called on Israel to fulfil its responsibilities by “acting with good sense, restoring the status quo (at the holy site) and lifting all hurdles to the freedom of worship.”
Mufuoglu said: “Trying to cover up the fact that East Jerusalem is under occupation will not serve peace and stability in the region or the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
On Tuesday, Erdogan had accused Israel of using security measures as a pretext to take over holy sites in Jerusalem from Muslims.
Palestinians claim Israel is trying to cement control over the site. Israel emphatically denies the claims insisting the security measures are in order to prevent further attacks.
A senior Muslim official in Jerusalem says worshippers won’t return to a contested shrine until Israel removes new railings and cameras it installed after a deadly attack there.
Ikrema Sabri says Wednesday that even after Israel removed metal detectors more steps were required. He says mass prayer protests would continue outside the site until the gates of the compound were opened and the metal railings and an iron bridge with cameras on it were removed.
Sabri, the head of the Supreme Islamic Committee, says a lawyer on behalf of the Muslim administration of the holy site will be in touch with Israeli police to demand the changes.
Israel installed new security measures after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site. Under international pressure, Israel removed the metal detectors.
Muslim worshippers have once again held their morning prayers outside Jerusalem’s most contested holy site despite Israel’s removal of the metal detectors that sparked the protest.
Wednesday’s prayers came a day after Israel seemingly capitulated to the demands of protesters. But Muslim religious leaders have called for prayers to continue outside until delicate arrangements at the site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, return to what they were before Israel installed new security measures. Those measures came after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site.
Israel says the measures are necessary to prevent further attacks while Palestinians claim Israel is trying to expand its control.
Israel decided to remove the metal detectors it installed. It says it plans to install new security cameras instead.