The preacher of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ikrema Sabri, was discharged from hospital on Wednesday after he was injured by an Israeli rubber bullet a day earlier.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sabri vowed to pursue protests against new Israeli security measures around the holy site.
“We will pray on the streets around Al-Aqsa mosque until Israeli metal detectors are removed,” a defiant Sabri said.
The imam was among scores of Palestinians injured during clashes with Israeli forces in east Jerusalem late Tuesday.
Sabri, a former grand mufti of Jerusalem, said Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades at worshippers after the night prayers.
“We were the target of rubber bullets, which caused injuries and stampedes among the crowds,” he recalled.
“I was one of those hit by rubber bullets and was taken to hospital,” he said. “I’m in good health now.”
Tension has been running high across east Jerusalem since Israel closed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Friday following a deadly shootout that killed two Israelis and three Palestinians.
Israeli authorities reopened the mosque on Sunday but installed metal detectors at gates, a move that the Palestinians say aim to change the status quo, a delicate balance of prayer and visiting rights at the holy site.
Ever since, Palestinian worshippers have gathered at the mosque gates, refusing to enter the site through Israeli detectors.
“These detectors are an assault to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and interference in Muslim affairs,” Sabri said.
He stressed that “The Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to Muslims and the mosque should be administrated by Muslims too.”
The grand mufti called on the Arab and Muslim worlds to rally to defend Al-Aqsa mosque, which is considered exceptionally holy by both Muslims and Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.
“Al-Aqsa mosque doesn’t belong to Palestinians; on the contrary, it belongs to Muslims all around the world,” he said.
“Muslims who care about Al-Aqsa mosque should step up and react to the recent events,” he added.