Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray at the Golden Gate inside Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday. Photo: AFP

A Jerusalem magistrates court on Sunday temporarily closed the Golden Gate in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which has been a source of tensions in recent weeks.

The court said the side building at the highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site, which is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, should be closed while the case continues.

The Waqf religious organization, which administers the site, was given 60 days to respond to the court case involving the Golden Gate.

Israeli police have called for the building to be closed.

Waqf spokesman Firas Dibs said the organization did not intend to abide by the court’s decision, adding that the building remained open on Sunday.

Jordan, the custodian of the holy site, decried the court ruling, with its Foreign Ministry adding that Israel would bear “full responsibility for the dangerous consequences” of the decision.

It is believed there are discussions underway between Israel and Jordan over the status of the building.

In recent weeks there have been altercations between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police at the site in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem over the use of the Golden Gate.

Palestinian worshippers have been entering the site and praying there despite an Israeli order that it should stay closed.

Israel shut access to the site in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada over alleged militant activity there.

Palestinian officials argue that the organization that prompted the ban no longer exists and there is no reason for it to remain closed.

The larger compound is the third-holiest site in Islam and a focus of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

It is also the location of Judaism’s holiest spot, revered as the site of the two biblical-era Jewish temples.

Jews are allowed to visit but cannot pray there and it is a frequent scene of tension.

Israeli officials worry that tensions at the site could escalate and trigger wider clashes ahead of the April 9 Israeli elections.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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