Israel shuts down Al-Aqsa mosque, turns violent
- Israel shuts down Al-Aqsa mosque, turns violent
Sun, 04 Oct 2009
Israeli police have fired tear gas at Palestinians protesting the closure of Al-Aqsa holy compound (Temple Mount) in the occupied Jerusalem.
Israeli security forces beefed up security in the Old City Sunday and denied entry to the compound where the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine are located, said Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian-appointed governor of Jerusalem.
"The situation is very tense in the Old City," Husseini said.
An Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, also confirmed that the compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, had been "shut to visitors."
Some 150 Palestinians protested the closure of the site, hurling stones and bottles at riot police.
Palestinian medical officials said nine people were treated for minor injuries including tear gas inhalation. Israel said one policeman was hurt by a rock.
Israeli police claim that the decision to close the site was made following calls, spread on the Palestinian media on Saturday evening and throughout the night, to "come protect the Mount."
Many Jewish visitors are also expected to flock to Jerusalem during the holiday of Sukkot, particularly to the Old City and the Western Wall.
Last week, 30 people were injured in similar clashes near the Al-Aqsa mosque, as Palestinians warned of a possible new uprising.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during a 1967 aggression and later annexed it. The status of the city is among the thorniest issues of the peace process with the Palestinians, underscoring the reality that any Palestinian state should include the city as its capital.
Palestinians Stand Up to Israeli Attempts to Desecrate Al-Aqsa
04/10/2009 Residents of the Al-Aqsa Mosque region gathered on Sunday to stand up to scores of Israeli occupation forces who have circled the sacred mosque, part of Israel's continuous bids to desecrate the Muslim site.
Israeli occupation police closed the Mosque to worshipers and Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat likened the Israeli move to that of former PM Sharon's visit to site in 2000, which sparked the second intifada.
Israeli settlers have been trying to desecrate the Aqsa Mosque under the protection of occupation security forces which brought in dozens of armed vehicles outside the site. "Providing police escort for settlers who are against peace at all costs is not the act of someone who is committed to peace,' Erekat said.
On Saturday evening, calls spread on the Palestinian media and throughout the night to protect Al-Aqsa. Occupation forces have been working on getting out dozens of Palestinians who have been staying inside the Mosque anticipating attacks by settlers.
On the 27th of September, Ultra-Orthodox Israelis tried to desecrate the holy Mosque and a confrontation with worshipers and resident ensued and left 17 Palestinians wounded.
The Mosque was closed as many Israeli settlers are to flock into occupied Jerusalem during the "Sukkot" holiday. Similar provocative "visits" by settlers have sparked tension and confrontations with Palestinians on many occasions.
Muslim clerics, senior Palestinian officials and heads of Islamic movements have called on Muslim worshippers to arrive in masses at the al-Aqsa Mosque "in order to curb the police's attempts to allow Jewish settlers to enter the compound," and desecrate the holy site.
Heavy security around al-Aqsa
The shutdown of the al-Aqsa compound sparked sporadic unrest in Jerusalem's Old City [AFP]
Israel has deployed large numbers of police officers around the Old City of Jerusalem after sporadic clashes with Palestinian worshippers around the al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Muslim men under the age of 50 were prevented from entering the compound as thousands of Jews gathered at the nearby Western Wall on Monday for prayers marking the week-long holiday of Sukkot.
The area, known as the Haram al-Sharif to Muslims and the Temple Mount to Jews, is the third holiest location in Islam and Judaism's most important site.
Some scuffles were reported to have broken out between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers at the Damascus Gate after people were refused access.
"There were Palestinian worshippers who turned up for morning prayers. They were told by the police force that anyone under the age of 50 would not be allowed through," Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Jerusalem, said.
"There are [at present] about 7,000 Jewish worshippers attending a prayer, a blessing at the Wailing [Western] Wall, which is just at the foot of the Haram al-Sharif.
"This is one of the three times during the year in which Jewish worshippers are told to go to Jerusalem and pray."
Justifying the restrictions on entry to the mosque, Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said: "These measures were taken to avert new incidents on the compound and the Old City and to prevent stones being thrown at the Jewish faithful who come to pray at the Western Wall."
He said "hostile elements are inciting to violence", pointing the finger at the Islamic Movement, an Arab-Israeli group that regularly calls the faithful to rally to the defence of al-Aqsa.
For its part, the Palestinian Authority urged the international community to "immediately intervene and bring the question of the al-Aqsa mosque before the UN Security Council".
Jordan, meanwhile, summoned Israel's ambassador in Amman to demand a halt to "repeated violations" by Israel at the al-Aqsa compound.
Skirmishes broke out near the Lion's Gate entrance to the Old City on Sunday after Israeli security forces closed off Haram al-Sharif to prevent Palestinians from joining about 200 worshippers who had staged a sit-in at the site.
The Palestinians had gathered at the mosque on Saturday night, saying they intended to prevent Jewish hardliners from gaining access.
The Palestinian group Hamas, which effectively governs the Gaza Strip, has warned that an "aggressive assault" by Jewish worshippers on the compound risks sparking a new wave of unrest in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"... we will not sit on our hands as we will rise in defence of our sanctities. Prejudice to al-Aqsa Mosque is not only a red line, but it is a ticking time bomb that will explode in the face of the Zionist aggressors," Hamas said in a statement.
'Flock to al-Aqsa'
Hamas also urged Palestinians to "flock to al-Aqsa" to offer their prayers in defiance of the Israeli blockade.
"We call on the brave fellow Palestinians and all the Arab and Muslim peoples to rise in defence of our sanctities, to spark another Intifada [uprising] to defend Jerusalem and al-Aqsa mosque," the group's statement said.
At least 13 Palestinians were injured and seven detained in clashes the previous Sunday after a group of non-Muslims entered the mosque compound.
Israeli police said the group was made up of French tourists, while the Palestinians said they were Israeli extremists.
Israel captured and annexed the Old City with its holy sites, along with the rest of Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in the war of 1967.
Students and staff prevented entry, several arrests and assaults at Mosque
Jerusalem / Maisa Abu Ghazaleh for PNN - Israeli authorities have imposed a total since the middle of last night on Al Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem's Old City, preventing the entry or exit of citizens and journalists.
Israeli forces have also arrested Hatem Abdel Qader, the official in charge of the Jerusalem file in the Fateh movement, Tariq Al Hashlamon, a guard at Al Aqsa, and Professor Nazmi Abdel Aal, a professor at a local high school for girls.
Those who reside around the area of the gate, Bab Hatta, are unable to move. The Al Aqsa Mosque kindergarten, the Islamic School for Boys, and the Girls' School are all blocked. Teachers and students cannot get in or out. At the same time a number of people have been beaten, including the deputy governor of Jerusalem.
In a telephone conversation with Sheikh Azzam Khatib, director of the Jerusalem Awqaf, the official told PNN, "The situation is very tense and we are prevented from entry into the Mosque." Israeli forces eventually did allow the official entry to Al Aqsa, but he refused until the staff of the Awqaf was also allowed.
For his part, the mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, said, "The situation is very serious and Al Aqsa is closed and under siege. The military presence at the gates is not reasonable. Citizens are preventd access to the Mosque. This is contrary to all international and humanitarian norms."
In an urgent statement the Al Aqsa Foundation for the Protection of Islamic Heritage is calling for worshippers to attempt to reach the Mosque. However, Israeli forces have set up barriers in Wadi Ara, Umm Al Fahm, Barta'a Village, Highway 6, Nazareth and Haifa. These are all parts of the route used by the buses provided by the Al Aqsa Foundation to transport Palestinians from within Israeli boundaries to the Mosque.
Dozens of people are now attempting to reach Jerusalem on foot, said Sheikh Ali Abu Sheikha.
Aqsa Mosque, and we here reiterate the appeal to people of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people inside, must be permanent and Rabat early in the Al Aqsa Mosque.
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