Israel moves to bar Muslim guards at Al-Aqsa mosque -UPDATED

Israel's Public Security Minister, backed by the Israel Police and internal security agency Shin Bet, is drafting a bill to outlaw the civilian Palestinian guard 'Mourabitoun' stationed on Al- Aqsa

Israel moves to bar Muslim guards at Al-Aqsa mosque -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Israel's Public Security Ministry and other branches of Israel's defense establishment are advancing a bill to outlaw the organization of Palestinian guards stationed on Al-Aqsa mosque (proclaimed Temple Mount) to block entry by Jews,  the daily Haaretz reports.

According to Amos Harel report, the guards are called "Mourabitoun" in Arabic, a term used to describe a guard meant to protect Islamic holy sites from heretics. Dozens of men and women are part of the guard, and are present near the mosques on Al-Aqsa mosque– which is worshipped by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary – day and night. The guard corps has been at the center of clashes with Israeli settlers during the past year.

A bill targeting the Mourabitoun is currently being drafted on behalf of Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, the Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service, report states. Once completed, the bill will then be submitted to the Israeli cabinet for approval, and, later, to the Knesset (Israel's parliament).

According to the Haaretz, the mourabitoun is funded by various Muslim organizations and several Gulf States, which transfer the money via couriers from the West Bank. Haaretz says Shin Bet recently apprehended a courier carrying NIS 1 million (about $258,000) meant for the mourabitoun.

Security officials argue that criminalizing the guard corps will reduce tensions at the site. At the same time, they are united in the opinion that access of right-wing Jewish activists and politicians to the area must also be restricted.

The move comes following statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month in which he described the guard as being "engaged in incitement."

"Muslim worshippers targeted"

Meanwhile, an official from the Jordanian Islamic Endowment Authority, which administers Jerusalem's holy sites, told The Anadolu Agency that there was "no such thing as a Mourabitoun organization" at Al-Aqsa.

"Netanyahu must be referring to normal Muslim worshippers who spend time at the mosque to pray and read Quran," the official, requesting anonymity, told Anadolu Agency.

Ekrema Sabri, head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem, a local NGO, slammed Netanyahu's assertions.

"Netanyahu does not know that defending Al-Aqsa is in itself a form of worship," Sabri said at a Friday prayer sermon inside the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Dozens of male and female Muslim worshippers routinely gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex to prevent extremist Jewish settlers from entering the site – which in recent months has taken place on a near-daily basis.

Muslim worshippers often clash with Israeli forces both inside and immediately outside the flashpoint mosque complex in Jerusalem's Old City.

The proposed legislation comes amid mounting tension in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories since late last month, when Israel briefly closed Al-Aqsa after an extremist rabbi was shot and injured by a Palestinian man in West Jerusalem.

The shooting suspect was subsequently killed by Israeli forces in a raid on his East Jerusalem home.

Further aggravating the situation, scores of Jewish settlers – and a handful of Israeli MPs – have forced their way into the mosque complex in recent weeks, drawing the ire of Muslim worshippers as well as official condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries.

The unrest had mounted in the occupied territories since the murder of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish settlers in July and Israel's subsequent 51-day onslaught on the Gaza Strip, in which over 2,160 Palestinians – the vast majority of them civilians – were killed.

In recent weeks, at least 11 Israelis have been killed – and a number of others injured – in a spate of attacks by Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon triggered what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Kasım 2014, 13:42

Muhammed Öylek