JERUSALEM: Scores of Jewish settlers forced their way into Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday to mark the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a Palestinian official said.
“Some 95 settlers backed by Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa compound through Al-Mugharbeh gate since early morning,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, said in a statement.
According to Dibs, Jewish extremist groups have called on supporters to converge on Al-Aqsa compound this week to mark the Jewish Sukkot holiday.
Sukkot is a week-long holiday, which started Sunday evening and will continue until the following Sunday.
According to PNN Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said, Friday, that the state of Israel is considering allowing Jews to pray inside Al-Aqsa Mosque. Iin an official statement, Erdan said: “I am sure this will happen soon, God willing.”
He emphasized that “the situation in Jerusalem is heading towards regaining sovereignty and control over the place. We will reach our goal when more Jews express their desire to visit the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa, ed). Then there will be an increasing pressure following an increasing demand. I hope this happens soon. When we reach this stage, we will work and push for changing the historical status quo in Jerusalem in light of respecting the international interests for Israel.”
Meanwhile, Jerusalem’s Islamic leaders warned, yesterday, that Erdan’s remarks could have grave consequences for the already frail relations between different religious groups and ethnicities in Jerusalem. The Islamic Awqaf Council, the Higher Islamic Commission, the Palestinian Iftaa Department and the Jerusalem Awqaf Department even go so far as to say that Israel might be inciting a religious war.
More specifically, they commented: “These irresponsible statements could drag the region and the whole world into an inevitable religious conflict that we do not want. Any prejudice to the beliefs and sanctities will inevitably violate the rights of peoples and nations, which will bring only destruction and devastation.”
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.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem — in which the Al-Aqsa is located — during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital — a move never recognized by the international community.
[Photo: Jewish settlers, under Israeli police protection, enter the atrium of Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in East Jerusalem’s Old City on September 30, 2019. Photographer: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/AA]