Palestinian gov’t slams Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque

19th Nov 2018
Palestinian gov’t slams Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque

By Qais Abu Samra

 

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA): The Palestinian government on Sunday decried incursions by Israeli settlers and government ministers into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Meanwhile, a group of Israeli settlers attacked, on Monday at dawn, many homes in Orif village, south of Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

In a statement, government spokesman Youssef al-Mahmoud described the incursions as “part of an Israeli scheme to inflame the region by triggering a religious war”.

He described the repeated incursions as a “hellish crime”.

On Sunday, Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and dozens of Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint compound.

Firas al-Dibs, head of the Public Relations and Media Department at the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), said that Ariel, along with dozens of Israeli settlers, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the heavy protection of Israeli forces.

Al-Dibs also mentioned that Ariel along with the Israeli settlers entered through the Moroccan Gate and toured the compound in a provocative fashion.

Al-Dibs added that a large number of Israeli forces were deployed across the compound.

Ariel had previously stormed the compound in September.

In another incident, Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israel’s activities in northern West Bank, said the Israeli settler assailants came from the Yitzhar colony, which was built on illegally confiscated Palestinian lands.

He added that the assailants hurled stones and objects at homes, in the eastern neighborhood of Orif village, south of Nablus, hundreds of meters away from the illegal colony.

Daghlas also said the colonists tried to burn an agricultural tractor, but were noticed before they managed to carry the attack out.

The official said the residents from the Local Guards Committees, which is a group of unarmed volunteers from the village, notice the assailants and chased them out of their village.

Owners of three of the attacked homes have been identified as Samir Hashash, Ahmad Shehada and Monir an-Nouri.

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 in a move never recognized by the international community.

In late 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had banned government ministers and MPs from entering the Al-Aqsa compound in an effort to calm tensions that had erupted across the Israeli-occupied West Bank following repeated incursions by Jewish settlers into the site.

But in June, Netanyahu lifted the ban, allowing members of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to visit the flashpoint site once every three months.

Additional report from Imemc.org

[Photo: Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (C) is seen at the Al-Aqsa compound after he and dozens of Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint compound in Jerusalem on November 18, 2018. Photograph: JERUSALEM ISLAMIC WAQF / HANDOUT/AA]

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