Israeli minister threatens to close Al-Aqsa to Muslims -UPDATED

Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich's words the first such threat to be made by a high-profile Israeli official since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.

Israeli minister threatens to close Al-Aqsa to Muslims -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich on Monday threatened to close the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to Muslim worshippers following clashes between the latter and Israeli police – the first such threat to be made by a high-profile Israeli official since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.

Aharonovich was quoted by Israeli radio as saying that he would not hesitate to close the site to Muslim worshippers in light of recent "disturbances," noting that it had been closed to Jewish visitors on Sunday.

But, he added, it was up to Jerusalem police to take such a decision.

Earlier Monday, Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin – under heavy Israeli police protection – had forced his way into the Al-Aqsa compound.

The intrusion came amid clashes between Muslim youth and Israeli police, the latter of which stormed the holy site in the early hours of the morning and tried to forcibly evict Palestinian worshippers from the area, eyewitnesses said.

The clashes came only one day after Feiglin had called for storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound on Monday on the occasion of Sukkot, a weeklong Jewish pilgrimage festival that began last Wednesday.

In a statement posted on his website, Feiglin called on Jews to converge outside the mosque compound at 6:30am on Monday before storming the site.

The invitation prompted Palestinian groups, too, to call on Muslims to flock to the site.

"Some outlaws who were allowed into the site today belonged to the Islamic Movement in Israel and Hamas; they will be arrested," Aharonovich was quoted as saying.

Jordan slams Israeli violations

Jordan will take firm action against Israeli violations of holy sites in Jerusalem, a Jordanian cabinet minister said Monday.

"Jordan will take the necessary political and legal measures to commit Israel to the [1994 Jordan-Israel] peace treaty," Information Minister Mohamed al-Momani, who also serves as government spokesman, told Anadolu Agency.

He said extremism could spark a sectarian war in the Middle East, going on to denounce Israeli violations against Jerusalem's Palestinian residents and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Al-Momani described these violations and attacks as "blatant aggression" against his country and a "violation" of international norms.

Quoted later by the state-run Petra news agency, he also decried the beating and detention of Muslims by Israeli security forces inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

He also lashed out at Israeli authorities for occupying the mosque compound's courtyards and roofs early Monday, going on to condemn their frequent use of "brutal" force to expel Muslim worshipers from the mosque complex.

In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers – usually accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into the holy site.

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 prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.

In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous "Balfour Declaration," called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

Palestinians, for their part, continue to demand the establishment of an independent state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem – currently occupied by Israel – as its capital.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Ekim 2014, 22:27
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