The expulsion by the Israeli authorities of Muslim worshippers from Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex constitutes a “blatant attack on religious freedom”, Abdul Nasser Abu al-Basal, Jordan’s minister of religious endowments, said Tuesday.
In a statement, Abu al-Basal described Israel’s recent closure of the mosque complex as “an attack on religious freedom and a violation of Muslims’ right to visit their holy places”.
Earlier Tuesday, Israeli forces sealed several entrances to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex amid ongoing clashes with Palestinian worshippers.
“Israeli soldiers stormed the Al-Aqsa compound and assaulted religious figures,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority (a Jordan-run agency tasked with overseeing the city’s Muslim and Christian sites), said in a statement.
The Israeli authorities, for their part, have yet to comment on the reports.
Tension has mounted in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem since last month, when police briefly sealed the mosque compound’s Al-Rahma Gate, sparking angry demonstrations by Palestinian Muslims.
In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina.
Writing by Ali H. M.Abo Rezeg