Palestine: 96 Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa complex, Israel demolish Ibrahimi mosque staircase
By AbdelRaouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA): Scores of Israeli settlers on Monday forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem, according to a Palestinian agency. In Hebron, Israeli authorities demolished parts of a historic staircase that leads to Ibrahimi mosque.
In a statement, the Islamic Endowment Department in Jerusalem said 96 settlers guarded by Israeli police broke into the flashpoint site.
Israeli settlers storm the complex every day in the morning and afternoon through its Al-Mughrabi Gate, southwest of the mosque.
According to eyewitnesses, some settlers tried to perform religious rituals at the site but were prevented by Israeli police.
Settler groups have called on supporters to converge on the site, one day after the Israeli Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem on Sunday ruled that performing Jewish religious rituals at the site does not constitute a violation of public security.
While the verdict drew condemnations from the Palestinians and Jordan, the Israeli government said it will appeal against the court ruling.
Since 2003, Israel has allowed settlers into the Al-Aqsa compound almost daily.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs, a total of 34,562 Israeli settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in 2021.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
Meanwhile, in Hebron, the Israeli army on Monday dispersed Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron who were protesting against the violation of the sanctity of the Ibrahimi Mosque by the occupation authorities.
Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that dozens of Palestinians tried to reach the mosque but Israeli forces closed the iron gates leading to it and fired teargas to disperse them.
Ghassan al-Rajbi, the director of the Ibrahimi Mosque, told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli authorities demolished parts of a historic staircase that leads to the mosque in order to construct an elevator for the sole use of Israeli settlers.
The Palestinian Waqf Ministry condemned the Israeli plans for the mosque.
The Palestinian resistance group Hamas group also denounced the Israeli plans, emphasizing that it rejects “the settlement and Judaization plans and projects” in Hebron.
Revered by both Muslims and Jews, Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque complex is believed to be the burial site of the prophets Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
After the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshipers inside the mosque by Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish extremist settler, the Israeli authorities divided the mosque complex between Muslim and Jewish worshipers.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided in July 2017 to include the Ibrahimi Mosque and the old city of Hebron on its World Heritage List.
Hebron is home to roughly 160,000 Palestinian Muslims and about 500 Jewish settlers. The latter live in a series of Jewish-only enclaves heavily guarded by Israeli troops.
*Writing by Ahmed Asmar & Bassel Barakat
[Archive Photo: 5: Israeli security forces accompany Israeli settlers storming Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on May 05, 2022. Photographer: Mostafa Alkharouf/AA]
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