Fri­day prayers protest looms over Al-Aqsa crack­down

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

JERUSALEM: Mem­bers of the Waqf (Is­lamic trust), in charge of run­ning the Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound, called on Pales­tini­ans in oc­cu­pied East Jerusalem to close all mosques in the neigh­bour­hoods to­day and for prayers to take place in front of the gates of Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound in re­jec­tion of un­prece­dented Is­raeli se­cu­rity mea­sures at the holy site.

Sheikh Az­zam al-Khatib, head of the Is­lamic trust and Al-Aqsa mosque af­fairs, said it is­sued a de­ci­sion to all speak­ers of the mosques in East Jerusalem not to hold prayers at lo­cal sites but to head to the Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound in­stead.

Large sol­i­dar­ity ac­tions are ex­pected to­day against Is­rael’s in­stal­la­tion of metal de­tec­tors at the gates of the Al-Aqsa on Sun­day fol­low­ing a deadly shoot-out there two days be­fore. Clashes have been on­go­ing near the holy site since, while re­li­gious lead­ers have en­cour­aged Pales­tini­ans to refuse en­trance into the mosque un­til the metal de­tec­tors are re­moved.

Hun­dreds of Pales­tini­ans have in­stead per­formed prayers out­side the com­pound. Yes­ter­day, hun­dreds per­formed Maghreb prayers on streets out­side the holy com­pound af­ter Is­raeli forces re­fused to al­low Pales­tini­ans into the area ex­cept through gates that have been in­stalled with metal de­tec­tors.

Al-Khatib warned Is­raeli author­i­ties from go­ing ahead with plans to in­stall the metal de­tec­tors at all of Al-Aqsa’s gates and de­manded an end to such poli­cies that “harm world peace”.

He also noted the head and em­ploy­ees of the Is­lamic trust were fol­low­ing up on in­ci­dents at Al-Aqsa, and cal­cu­lat­ing the dam­age done to the mosque and its fa­cil­i­ties af­ter Is­raeli forces had raided the mosque last Fri­day and closed it for more than two days to Mus­lim wor­ship­pers – a move which rights groups have deemed a vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law and a form of “col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment”.

A spokesper­son for the Greek Ortho­dox Pa­tri­ar­chate in Jerusalem, Is­sam Musleh, also said that “we will not give up on each other un­der these cir­cum­stances at Al-Aqsa mosque”.

Musleh stated that Is­raeli poli­cies rep­re­sented vi­o­la­tions and “as­saults” on Al-Aqsa, and added that Is­rael was at­tempt­ing to re­peat what hap­pened at the Ibrahimi mosque in He­bron af­ter an Is­raeli gun­man killed 29 wor­ship­pers in 1994. Is­raeli author­i­ties sub­se­quently di­vided the mosque in half, split­ting it into a syn­a­gogue for Is­raeli set­tlers and a mosque for Pales­tini­ans. Ma’an

PIC­TURE: EPA

Pales­tinian wor­ship­pers con­front Is­raeli po­lice as they come to pray yes­ter­day in the old city of Jerusalem but refuse to pass through new se­cu­rity mea­sures im­posed by Is­rael at the en­trance to the Al-Aqsa mosque.

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