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The Muslim world has denounced Israel’s recent move to shut down the al-Aqsa Mosque after a deadly shooting at the holy mosque’s compound in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds. The Friday gunfight took place just outside the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) and left three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers dead.

Following the incident, Israeli police closed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, briefly detained Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem al-Quds, and cancelled Muslim Friday prayers at the site. “We insist on reaching al-Aqsa mosque and performing prayers there. The occupation preventing us from praying marks an assault against our right to worship in this pure Islamic mosque,” Sheikh Muhammad said.

The measures taken by the Tel Aviv regime drew condemnations from the Muslim world. Arab League, Jordan demand al-Aqsa reopening. The Arab League warned against the consequences of Israel’s “dangerous” closure of the al-Aqsa Mosque and ban on Friday prayers. In a statement released on Friday, the 22-member pan-Arab organization said the move would adversely affect the so-called peace process in the region and fuel conflict, terrorism and extremism.

Israeli policemen check the body of a Palestinian after he was shot dead by Israeli police at the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem. 

It further called on Israel to the immediately reopen al-Aqsa and avoid any attempt to change the historic status of the mosque, demanding the international community protect the Islamic and Christian sacred sites. Additionally, Jordan, which serves as the custodian of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, urged the reopening of the site and advised Israel to “refrain from taking any step aimed at changing” the status quo of Jerusalem al-Quds or the mosque compound.

“Jordan rejects any attack on the rights of Muslims,” Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani said in a statement carried by the official Petra news agency on Friday.

Qatar wants global action

In a similar development, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry censured the Israeli closure of the al-Aqsa Mosque, prevention of prayers there and declaration of the area as a closed military zone as a severe violation of the sanctity of Islamic sites and a provocation to millions of Muslims around the world.

Israeli forces stand guard as Muslim worshippers pray outside the Damascus Gate, a main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds, on July 14, 2017, after the al-Aqsa Mosque was closed for Friday prayers by Israeli authorities following a shootout.

In a statement, the ministry called on the international community to assume its responsibility in halting these violations.

‘Aqsa’s historical status must be respected’

Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed regret over Friday’s incident, saying, “It is a humanitarian and legal obligation to respect the sanctity and historical status of the religious sites in the Israeli occupied East Jerusalem [al-Quds], especially the Haram al-Sharif.”

The Haram al-Sharif should be opened to worshippers “via the immediate lifting of the entry ban imposed by Israel and calm should be attained as soon as possible,” it added. 

Dozens arrested after shooting

In the immediate aftermath Friday’s shootout, Israeli forces detained dozens of employees of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, an Islamic religious trust that manages the current Islamic edifices on and around the Haram al-Sharif. Firas Dibs, head of the Waqf public relations,

told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that Israeli forces had detained 58 staff of the organization, and interrogated them over the gunfight. The occupied lands have witnessed tensions ever since Israeli forces imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound two years ago.

The Tel Aviv regime has been trying to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population. More than 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since October 2015, when the tensions intensified. Tel Aviv has come under fire for using
violence against Palestinians and adopting a policy of shoot-to-kill.


Dozens of worshippers gathered to pray at an entrance to the compound after new measures introduced at holy site. 
Worshippers say the new security measures are an imposition of Israeli sovereignty over Al-Aqsa [Reuters]

Al-Aqsa mosque officials have rejected new security measures put in place by Israel as it reopened the holy site following a deadly gun battle that prompted a two-day closure.
Muslim religious authorities, who administer the compound, are refusing to pray there on Sunday after Israeli authorities installed metal detectors and additional close-circuit television cameras.

"The closure of al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the occupation in itself and the prevention of the call for prayers are all unfair and unjust and constitute a violation to the United Nations resolutions and the international agreements," Omar Kiswani, director of al-Aqsa mosque, told reporters outside the site.

"We hold the Israeli government responsible for the changes they have made in the al-Aqsa Mosque and taking its control away from us. We will stay outside the mosque until we get back the way it was taken from us." 

Israel shuts down Al-Aqsa Mosque after gun attack 

Dozens of worshippers gathered to pray at an entrance to the compound next to the Lions' Gate entry to the Old City, as Israeli security officials look on. Some women wailed and cried, calling on worshippers not to enter. The site was shut down during Friday prayers when five people were killed in a shootout - the first time the compound had been closed for prayers in 48 years.

"What happened does not justify this," Abu Mohammed, who works at a small medical clinic inside the compound, told Al Jazeera. "This is our mosque and we refuse to enter through any electronic gate, this can never be imposed on us." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the additional security measures on Saturday, saying they gave Israel "almost complete control over what goes on" in the compound, to prevent future attacks. 

Earlier in the day, Kiswani told Voice of Palestine radio station the additional security measures were part of a "dangerous and unprecedented move" by Israeli authorities "to impose control over al-Aqsa Mosque".

Israel's decision also triggered anger from authorities in Jordan, the custodian of the holy site. The Jordanian goverment released a statement on Friday demanding Israel immediately open the mosque and warning against steps that could "change the historic status quo in Jerusalem and the mosque". 

Proposals to change security measures at the compound have sparked controversy in the past. Palestinians have long feared what they see as Israeli moves to change the status quo at the holy site.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from East Jerusalem, said as the standoff continues as of 1400 GMT, because of the installation of the new security measures. "As far as they [worshippers] are concerned, this is an imposition of Israeli sovereignty on an area, which there should be none, and they are opposing this very strongly," he said. After Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, Israeli authorities have maintained an agreement with the Islamic Endowment that runs the mosque compound. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the site, but are not allowed to pray. The mosque compound is known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif while Jews call it Temple Mount.


Fatah calls on Palestinians to boycott holy mosque as heightened security measures are feared to be signs of a takeover.

Clashes broke out on Tuesday evening outside Lion's Gate [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party has called for a "Day of Rage" to protest against new security measures introduced by Israel at a Jerusalem site which is holy to both Muslims and Jews. The call follows
implementation of metal detectors and turnstiles at the entrance of al-Aqsa compound after a deadly shootout there on Friday. In that incident, two Israeli security officers died after an alleged attack by three Palestinians - who were themselves killed by Israeli police following the violence.Tensions have soared since Friday.

READ MORE: Grand Mufti - Arrest of al-Aqsa guards 'unacceptable'

The Red Cross said on Tuesday that at least 50 Palestinians were wounded in overnight clashes with Israeli police remaining near the sacred site, known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims.  At least four paramedics were injured, and 15 others were hit by rubber bullets, the charity said.
Clashes also broke out on Tuesday evening after Israeli security forces used sound bombs and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of worshippers near Lion’s gate in occupied Jerusalem after evening prayers.
A number of Palestinians suffered rubber bullet injuries, including former Jerusalem mufti Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, said Al Jazeera Arabic's correspondent.

Metal detectors and turnstiles have been installed at the entrance of al-Aqsa Mosque [Ilia Yefimovich/Getty]
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements have also called for protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the new security measures.

The "Day of Rage" is set to take place on Wednesday. "For the third day now, the Islamic Waqf authority - which runs the al-Aqsa Mosque compound - is refusing to enter through the Israeli metal detectors," said Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from Jerusalem. "[The authority] and the many growing number of worshippers outside the mosque see [the security measures] as an imposition of Israeli sovereignty in a holy place, and more generally as an Israeli encroachment in occupied East Jerusalem. "The Israelis are saying that this is an important security measure after the deadly attack which took place on Friday."

READ MORE: What triggered the violence at al-Aqsa Mosque?

Fatah is calling for Friday prayers to be conducted in public squares in Palestinian cities to denounce what they described as "terrorist procedures" by Israel in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians have already been performing prayers outside the compound in protest, since it was reopened on Sunday after a two-day closure. Jerusalem Grand Mufti Mohammed Ahmed Hussein criticised the new measures as altering the status quo, which gives Muslims religious control over the site and permits Jews to visit but not pray there.

In a statement, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that Israeli forces removed worshippers at Lions' Gate for allegedly blocking the street while performing prayers. The Palestinians fear Israel is trying to retake control of the site by stealth. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed on Friday that he did not want to alter the status quo. The site houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine, Islam's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, but also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple.

Questions about control of the site frequently lead to outbursts of fighting. After Friday's alleged attack, Israel closed off the area, preventing Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque for the first time in decades. Mahmoud Abbas, who was quick to condemn the shooting attacks in a telephone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is currently in Beijing on a three-day visit to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.


A review of the critical events that have marked the history of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Dalia Hatuqa & Mohsin Ali


Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem is one of the most sacred sites in Islam.
The compound is also claimed by Jews. It has been central to years of political conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.  On Sunday, hundreds of Jewish settlers and far-right activists entered al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of Israeli forces. They were there for a day of mourning to commemorate the destruction of two ancient Jewish temples. But 15 Palestinians were injured after fighting began over Jewish settlers trying to pray at the site, something they are not allowed to do.  Many Palestinians have spoken out against what they say is Israel's attempt to undermine Muslim control of the sacred site and allowing violence to escalate there.

Why is there so much tension around the sacred site?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan


Azzam Tamimi - academic and political activist
Robbie Sabel   - professor of international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Rodney Dixon  - international human rights lawyer

Israel has been using the pretext of security to quietly continue the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land

Yesterday, thousands of Palestinians came to Jerusalem to perform the most simple, most peaceful act: prayer. Palestinians - Muslims and Christians, women and men, young and old - prayed in the streets after refusing to enter through the new metal detectors and barricades erected by Israel in front of the al-Aqsa compound. Israeli forces, armed with live ammunition, stun grenades, sound bombs, water cannon and tear gas, came prepared to kill. 
And they did: by the day's end Israeli forces and armed settlers had killed three young Palestinian men and injured more than 450 others, some of them very seriously. Israeli forces even raided a Palestinian hospital in an attempt to arrest those injured by their weaponry.

WATCH: Israeli officer kicks worshipper praying outside al-Aqsa (0:43)

Israel claims that the metal detectors are necessary for Israel's "security" following an incident last week in which two armed Israeli officers were killed. These metal detectors are not about security, but rather about deliberately attempting to bar Palestinians from their places of worship. Contrast, for example, Israel's recent stance towards the Temple Mount Faithful - a group of Jewish extremists who have openly announced that they seek the destruction of the al-Aqsa compound in order to build a Jewish temple in its place.

Yet, while openly advocating for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the destruction of Muslim holy sites, the Israeli government continues to allow this group to enter the al-Aqsa compound (including with arms) under the guise of "freedom of religion".

In 1990, this group attempted to lay a cornerstone for a Jewish temple at the compound triggering protests in which some 20 Palestinians died.  The demand for freedom of religion for Palestinians - the ability to worship without the interference of Israel's armed forces - is conveniently ignored. The metal detectors must be viewed in their proper context: as another of Israel's settler-colonial acts of erasing us, the indigenous population, erasing our homes, our culture and our religious sites and replacing us with settlers.

For his part, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is happy to see Jerusalem erupt in violence. Facing a corruption investigation for a submarine scandal, Netanyahu is refusing to remove the metal detectors so as to ensure that attention is deflected from this deal and instead focused on violence. You see, in Israel, "security" sells - it ensures votes and ensures that corruption charges are deflected.

To be clear, no Palestinian wants to see their holy sites turned into places of armed conflict. But using the guise of "security", Israel has ensured that we, Palestinians, live as prisoners in our homeland.

WATCH: Is Israel changing the status quo around Al Aqsa? (25:30)

In the name of "security," Israel expropriates Palestinian land. In the name of "security", Israel builds Israeli-only settlements on stolen Palestinian land. In the name of "security" Israel demolishes Palestinian homes and schools and in the name of "security" Palestinians are besieged in Gaza, forced to live without electricity, adequate medical supplies or water and even barred from accessing the sea.

And, when Palestinians are gunned down by mass murderers, as they were in the 1990s in Hebron by Baruch Goldstein, in the name of "security", Palestinians - and not Israelis - are subject to increased security restrictions. In short, Israel seeks to turn Jerusalem into Hebron: blocked off from Palestinians, with convenience for Israeli Jews taking precedence over Palestinian rights. So as Israel continues to gun down Palestinians, who will provide security to Palestinians?

This security will not come from the current unelected Palestinian leader,]

Mahmoud Abbas who spent four days in China as Palestinians were barred from accessing al-Aqsa compound and as Gazans suffered under a siege that he has openly supported. Nor, of course, will it come from a silent international community that only knows how to wring its hands and meekly condemn Israel.

Rather, Palestinians will continue to bravely stand and defend themselves, bowing down only to the God they worship and never to Israeli diktats.

Diana Buttu is a Palestinian lawyer and analyst who served as a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team from 2000 to 2005.

Israel removes barricades and surveillance equipment around holy site after two weeks of protests by Palestinians.

Muslim leaders of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem have given their approval for Palestinians to re-enter the site after Israel removed new security measures, following almost two weeks of protests that saw several Palestinians killed and hundreds injured.

Officials of the Islamic Waqf authority that administers the holy site said on Thursday that Muslims should claim victory after Israel backed down, and urged them to once again pray inside the mosque.

The first prayer is expected to take place at around 13:00 GMT.
"We will be able to offer prayers inside the compound," said Abdel-Azeem Salhab, director of the Islamic Waqf Council.
"The Israeli occupation forces have been trying for decades to violate al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Now, you are living in the new era of victory. We totally appreciate the masses who have been gathering," he added.

The Islamic Waqf Council is the leading authority for supervising the compound [Muammar Awad/Reuters]
Israel had erected railings, gates and scaffolding where cameras were mounted at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound entrance, claiming the measures were necessary for security after an attack on July 14.
Palestinians protested against increased security, which they viewed as an encroachment of Israeli control over the holy site, and a form of collective punishment.

With the discriminatory security measures, they feared that Israel was attempting to change the status quo of al-Aqsa, which gives Muslims religious control over the compound and Jews the right to visit, but not pray there. 
Deadly street protests

Instead of praying inside al-Aqsa, thousands worshipped in the streets.
They also demonstrated, often clashing with police. At least four Palestinians were killed in that violence - one of whom was shot by a settler, and hospitals were unable to keep up with the number of injured.
"We had to sacrifice everything, we had to win this battle, and we finally won," Ahmed Abulawa, a resident of occupied East Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera. "Jerusalem is our soul, our faith and we cannot live without it and al-Aqsa.
"Everyone here will sacrifice everything for al-Aqsa, and this is what made us victorious."
A Palestinian also allegedly broke into the home of a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank and killed three Israelis.

Palestinians celebrate as Israel removes security measures at al-Aqsa

By Tuesday, Israel had removed metal detectors from the entrance. The measures, which also saw Palestinian men under the age of 50 banned from Friday prayers, were imposed after the alleged attack almost two weeks ago at the compound, carried out by Palestinian gunmen who killed two Israeli security guards. As workmen removed the extra security installations on Thursday, Palestinians gathered to celebrate, with whistling and constant horns from cars. 

"The message here is that the people have won," said Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem. "It is a very special time for the Palestinians, who have never really experienced this kind of victory. They have achieved what they wanted."

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, backed calls to return to al-Aqsa Mosque.
"The prayers will happen, God willing, inside the al-Aqsa Mosque," Abbas told a press conference.
Jordan welcomed Israel's removal of all new security measures as "an essential step towards calm", said Mohammad al-Momani, information minister.

The compound houses al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine, Islam's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, but also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple. Israeli police earlier confirmed that all security measures had been removed

Thousands attend noon prayers after two weeks of protests over Israeli-imposed restrictions on entering the compound





The June 1967 Arab-Israeli war lasted only six days but its consequences are still felt across the Middle East today.

Zionist theft of Palestinian lands has now been extended to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site. Under siege since July 14, the Zionists have tightened their grip on al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) that houses, in addition to al-Aqsa Masjid, the Dome of the Rock Masjid, and a number of madrasahs and zawiyahs. Under international law and the July 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, the Noble Sanctuary is to be administered by Jordan. A waqf (an Islamic trust) exists for this purpose. Jewish law prohibits Jews from trespassing on the holy compound. That, however, is no bar to the thieving Zionists.

The siege of al-Masjid al-Aqsa began when three Palestinians allegedly killed two Israeli policemen on guard duty outside the gate. Not only were the three Palestinians immediately shot and killed, Zionist forces also shot and killed seven other Palestinians in different parts of the Zionist occupied West Bank. For the Zionist doting Western media, only the death of two Israeli policemen was newsworthy. This was endlessly reported on TV channels but the murder of seven Palestinians was ignored. Their lives do not matter, even if they are innocent civilians.

For Muslims, al-Masjid al-Aqsa not only has sentimental attachment because the noble Messenger (pbuh) went on the Isra’ (his nightly journey from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa – 17:01) before going on the Mi‘raj (the journey to heaven), but also because al-Masjid al-Aqsa is the first qiblah of the Muslims.

Since the early Muslims first liberated Jerusalem in 638ce, they have maintained the city as an abode of peace allowing other religious groups — Christians and Jews — unfettered access to their religious places. Under Muslims, Christians were fully protected, unlike the Zionist occupiers. When the Muslims lost Jerusalem and Palestine to the Crusaders in 1099ce, the European invaders desecrated masjids and churches in the Holy Land after perpetrating a bloodbath in the city. Among the dead were Muslims and Christians; the Crusaders’ horses ran knee deep in blood. They killed the Palestinian Christians because the latter had lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors. Once Muslims reclaimed Jerusalem in 1187, they again restored the city to its peaceful inheritance, allowing all faith communities to practice their religion without hindrance. The contrast with the Zionists’ crimes cannot be more glaring.

The Zionists are targeting al-Masjid al-Aqsa because they allege it is built on the site of their second temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70ce. They have dug tunnels underneath the holy sanctuary undermining its foundations. While no traces of the second temple have been found, even if they were, that would not lend legitimacy to a claim that a building might have existed there 2,000 years ago.

Further, the Zionists, most of whom are secularized Jews and do not even believe in God, claim that God promised them the Holy Land. Why would God promise the Holy Land to hustlers and thieves? What have they done to deserve God’s favor? The Qur’an tells us that they are going to spread corruption on earth twice. Each time Allah (swt) punished (or will punish) them (17:2–3), warning them that if they indulge in corruption and sedition again, they would again incur Allah’s wrath. This warning also extends to other faith communities, including Muslims. Allah (swt) has no favorites; only those who abide by His divine commands can expect mercy and grace.

The Zionist occupiers are able to get away with their barbaric practices because of two reasons: unflinching support of the US and the cowardly nature of Arabian rulers. The first can be neutralized, as Hizbullah has successfully done in Lebanon but it requires committed leadership. The Arabian rulers are anything but. Their only commitment is to their illegitimate hold on power. Everything else is dispensable, including the cause of the Palestinian people. But al-Masjid al-Aqsa is not only a Palestinian issue; it is the responsibility of every Muslim in the world, especially Muslim rulers since they occupy positions of power.

Far from fulfilling their responsibility toward al-Masjid al-Aqsa, they have maintained a deathly silence. They dare not utter a word against Zionist crimes lest they lose their shaky thrones. Equally despicable is the conduct of the so-called Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas. He is an imperialist-Zionist agent and survives on their handouts. He cannot do anything to protect either al-Masjid al-Aqsa or the rights of the Palestinians.

That leaves Hamas and Islamic Jihad among the Palestinian groups. Both are virtually bottled up in tiny Gaza. They have held protest rallies and warned Israel against crossing “red lines” but they have limited means, somewhat of their own making, to effectively challenge Zionist aggression.

The responsibility for al-Masjid al-Aqsa, therefore, falls of the shoulders of the global Islamic movement. In the manner of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi — who, before liberating Jerusalem in 1187, had to deal with the cowardly rulers surrounding Palestine — Muslims today have to repeat that history. Without liberating the countries around Palestine from the clutches of these clowns and criminals, there will be little hope for liberating Palestine from the clutches of the land-grabbing Zionists. The global Islamic movement needs to get serious about the task facing them and prepare for it accordingly.


Zionist occupiers have again blocked Muslim access to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site, since July 14. This provocative act came in the wake of an alleged attack by three Palestinians on Israeli guards outside al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) in Jerusalem. Israeli media reports claimed that two policemen were killed while the three alleged assailants were also shot dead. The Zionist occupation forces immediately imposed a clampdown and shut all access to the holy sanctuary.

The Palestinian reaction was swift. They saw this as another attempt by the Zionists to take control of al-Masjid al-Aqsa. Despite military and police crackdown, Palestinians in their thousands have been holding prayers outside the compound. The pushy Zionists have attacked and beaten up peaceful worshippers in a clear attempt to intimidate them. Since July 14, two or three Palestinian worshippers have been shot and killed almost daily. Hundreds have been injured.

After massive Palestinian protests, two days later, the Zionists opened access to the compound but turnstiles and metal detectors were installed before anyone could enter to pray. This was a clear escalation of provocations. Jordan is tasked with administering the holy sanctuary in Jerusalem. Under the July 1994 treaty whereby Jordan recognized Israel and established full diplomatic relations with the pariah state, Jordan was given control of the administration of al-Haram al-Sharif. Thus, Jordan is responsible for its maintenance and also pays the salaries of the imams there.

An Israeli “policeman” (read that, paramilitary shock trooper trained to kill and ask questions later) about to hit a Palestinian as he sits on the floor during clashes after Salah al-Jumu‘ah in the courtyard of al-Masjid al-Aqsa. According to the latest raft of Zionist restrictions, this young man would no longer be permitted to enter the compound as all males under the age of 50 have been barred entry; in addition, turnstiles and metal detectors were installed at the entrance to the compound housing al-Masjid al-Aqsa some two weeks before this issue of CI goes to press. However, under pressure from Palestinian protesters, with more calls for extended demonstrations around Jerusalem and the greater Muslim world, the Zionist regime, probably after an extended cost-benefit analysis, was forced to relent and finally removed the offensive scanning equipment on 7-25-2017. However, in a cryptic statement from the office of the prime minister, “[Netanyahu]…accepted the recommendation of all of the security bodies to incorporate security measures based on advanced technologies (‘smart checks’) and other measures instead of metal detectors to ensure the security of visitors…”

Israel’s installation of metal detectors outside the holy compound is a violation of this agreement and a clear attempt at usurpation. While not much is expected from the puppet rulers of Jordan — they remain in power at the pleasure of the imperialists and Zionists — the Jordanian people have reacted angrily to the latest escalation. Massive rallies were held in Amman and other Jordanian cities on July 15 and 16 denouncing Israeli actions.

On July 20, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Husayn, called on the imams of all the masjids in Jerusalem to shut down on Friday, July 21. He said Palestinian Muslims should instead gather outside the gates of al-Masjid al-Aqsa for Jumu‘ah prayers. Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children heeded his call despite clear risk to their lives at the hands of trigger-happy Zionist soldiers. As Palestinians rushed to the Noble Sanctuary, Israeli soldiers shot and wounded 22 Palestinians the same day (July 20).

Palestinian fears — and indeed those of Muslims worldwide — about the Zionists’ nefarious designs are not without foundation. They have been involved in the creeping annexation of Jerusalem by changing its demography. Al-Haram al-Sharif is their specific target. The Zionists have made no secret of their plans to destroy al-Masjid al-Aqsa to make way for building their third temple. They allege that al-Haram al-Sharif is built on the site where the Jews’ Second Temple once stood. Despite decades of excavations under the foundations of al-Masjid al-Aqsa under the pretext of archaelogical explorations, they have found no traces of their so-called Second Temple. None exist.

Truth, however, is not what the Zionists are looking for. Their aim is to weaken the foundations of al-Masjid al-Aqsa so that it collapses on its own weight. If they succeed in this criminal act, this would pave the way for them to build their third temple.

The Zionists are pursuing a two-pronged strategy. Underneath the structure, they are weakening its foundations and above the ground, they are extending their control over the Noble Sanctuary. The latest crisis is part of this strategy. Under Judaic law, Jews are forbidden to enter the holy sanctuary. There is even a board at the entrance to the holy compound stating that Jews are prohibited from setting foot there. If they trespass, this, according to Judaic law, would pollute the holy sanctuary.

A Palestinian youth getting ready to throw a rock at the Zionist sentinels standing at the gateway to al-Haram al-Sharif where al-Masjid al-Aqsa is located (the dome of the masjid is in the background). At such close range, facing down armed Israeli soldiers equipped with semi-automatic weapons and other assault gear, he must know that he is facing almost certain death. If the ordinary Palestinian was allowed to have the same weapons as his oppressor, then of course, this would have been a done deal long ago. And so, the oppressed must resist with whatever they can muster, and ultimately their Lord will deliver them.

For the Zionists, however, such religious rulings are inconvenient irritants that can be easily dismissed. And they have. Since the Zionists occupied the whole of Jerusalem in June 1967, they have encroached on the Noble Sanctuary as part of a systematic plan to annex it completely. The first assault on al-Masjid al-Aqsa occurred on August 21, 1969 when an allegedly mad Australian Jew, one Denis Michael Rohan set fire to the 1,000-year-old historic minbar. Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, the liberator of Jerusalem from the clutches of the Crusaders, had gifted the minbar for al-Masjid al-Aqsa.

Since 1969, a number of other encroachments have occurred on the holy sanctuary. In September 2000, General Arial Sharon, an aggressive Zionist who had served in various capacities in the Israeli cabinet, accompanied by a number of squatters (aka “settlers”) barged onto the Noble Sanctuary triggering the second Palestinian intifa?ah. The Zionist squatters are usually from North America or Europe. Armed with the Talmud in one hand and Uzi submachine gun in the other, they claim God promised them the whole of Palestine and they have a right to destroy the Noble Sanctuary to build their third temple. Sharon’s provocative act naturally emboldened the pushy Zionist squatters to become even more aggressive. While the Palestinians bravely resist such Zionist moves, they are virtually powerless against heavily armed squatters that have the backing of the occupation forces. What can unarmed people do against the most militarized state in the region?

Following the eruption of the latest crisis, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had no plans to change the legal status of al-Haram al-Sharif. In other words, he tried to indicate that Jordan would continue to maintain the holy site. But what is the ground reality?

For two years now (since August 2015), the Zionist occupation regime has imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshippers’ entry into the holy compound. This has now been escalated by the installation of metal detectors in flagrant violation of the Palestinians’ fundamental right to worship unencumbered.
August seems to be an ominous month for the Palestinians in Jerusalem. Last year (August 13, 2016) more than 300 Zionist squatters, aided and abetted by the colonization forces, barged onto the holy sanctuary. They claimed they wanted to offer prayers on the occasion of the Ninth of Av. Why would they need to offer prayers on the Muslims’ holy site? When the Palestinians resisted such illegal encroachments, Israeli soldiers shot and killed them. Scores were injured, some attacked inside the masjid.

Muslim reaction to the latest Zionist encroachments and provocations has been rather mute. The Palestinian resistance movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad have held rallies in Gaza to protest the latest Zionist moves, as have Jordanians. At the state level, only the Islamic Republic of Iran has officially condemned Zionist actions. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on July 23 called on governments around the world to support “the oppressed Palestinians and counter inhuman measures and aggression of the usurping Zionists.”

He condemned the “…Zionists and their crimes, aggressions, and violations of the basic rights of Palestinians, in particular restrictions put on religious freedom and access to holy places” in al-Quds (Jerusa-lem). Qassemi also took the regional states to task for their silence and inaction in the face of the Zionist crackdown. Addressing the international community, especially the United Nations, he asked them “to urgently address the unfortunate developments in the occupied territories and firmly stand against the oppression, racial discrimination, and religious discrimination policies of the Zionist regime.”

Islamic Iran’s forthright stand has once again exposed the Arabian regimes’ silence and treachery in the face of Zionist provocations and aggression. These regimes are quick to condemn Muslims on the basis of fiqhi differences, but when it comes to clear and well-documented Zionist crimes, they adopt a deathly silence.

Muslims around the world must rise up in opposition to the latest Zionist aggression. Remaining silent in the face of such provocations is not an option. Israel’s crimes must be exposed and condemned in the strongest possible terms.

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