Call for Day of Rage over al-Aqsa Mosque

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

PALES­TINIAN Author­ity-af­fil­i­ated move­ment Fatah called for a Day of Rage to­day as ten­sions build up over Is­lam’s third holi­est shrine, the al-Aqsa Mosque in Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied East Jerusalem.

Fol­low­ing a shoot­ing at­tack last Fri­day by three Is­raeli-Arab gun­men on Is­raeli po­lice, which left two of­fi­cers and the three gun­men dead, the Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties closed the mosque for sev­eral days as they in­ves­ti­gated the shoot­ing.

This was the first time in 50 years that Mus­lims were banned from pray­ing there af­ter an Aus­tralian with a men­tal ill­ness tried to burn down al-Aqsa in 1967.

Jerusalem’s Old City was also closed to Mus­lim wor­ship­pers, apart from those who live inside the walled city, while Is­raelis and tourists were free to come and go.

Fol­low­ing the at­tack, metal de­tec­tors have been in­stalled at all the en­trances of the mosque, but the Mus­lim Waqf, which ad­min­is­ters the holy site un­der Jordan cus­to­di­an­ship, said this was un­ac­cept­able in­ter­fer­ence and an at­tempt by Is­rael to take con­trol of the mosque.

Over the past few days. Waqf of­fi­cials have re­fused to en­ter al-Aqsa and called on wor­ship­pers to hold prayers out­side the mosque in protest.

On Mon­day night, sev­eral Pales­tini­ans were in­jured, in­clud­ing women. chil­dren and a Pales­tinian politi­cian, as an­gry protesters clashed with Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces.

Pales­tini­ans fear that the Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties want to di­vide al-Aqsa as hap­pened in the Ibrahimi Mosque in He­bron, in the south­ern Is­raeli oc­cu­pied West Bank, af­ter a Jewish Amer­i­can set­tler, Baruch Gold­stein, opened fire on Mus­lims wor­ship­ping there in 1994, killing 29 and wound­ing 125.

“This move by Is­rael is part of its plan to Ju­daise East Jerusalem and as­sert its sovereignty over the whole of the city,” said Hal­ima Abu Haniyeh, a Pales­tinian jour­nal­ist.

Un­der in­ter­na­tional law, East Jerusalem is il­le­gally oc­cu­pied by the Is­raelis and is where the Pales­tini­ans hope to es­tab­lish the cap­i­tal of a fu­ture Pales­tinian state.

In an at­tempt to es­tab­lish facts on the ground, the Is­raelis have changed the mu­nic­i­pal bound­aries of Jerusalem, in­cor­po­rat­ing large parts of the West Bank into its bor­ders and build­ing il­le­gal set­tle­ments in East Jerusalem.

“There are cur­rently over 300 000 Is­raeli set­tlers liv­ing il­le­gally in East Jerusalem,” said Abu Haniyeh.

“For Pales­tini­ans, how­ever, there is a chronic short­age of hous­ing,” she added.

“Fur­ther­more, an ex­treme rightwing Is­raeli move­ment called the Tem­ple Mount Faith­ful want to build the third Jewish Tem­ple in the place of al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Although Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu has vowed to keep ac­cess to the mosque as is, shar­ing ac­cess be­tween Jewish vis­i­tors and Mus­lim wor­ship­pers, there are mem­bers of his hard-right govern­ment who ad­vo­cate a change in the sta­tus quo to al­low Jews to wor­ship there.

The sen­si­tiv­ity over al-Aqsa has lead to mass un­rest in the past and Fatah’s po­lit­i­cal ri­val in Gaza, Ha­mas, has called for an up­ris­ing over al-Aqsa.

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