Palestinian teams decry Israel assaults on worshippers

GAZA CITY

Palestinian groups on Tuesday condemned Israeli aggression in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, and called on people to unite to defend the sacred mosque.

The groups said escalating tensions in Al-Aqsa Mosque is a continuation of arbitrary policies of Israel against Palestinians, land and sacred places, referring to raids in East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

“The prevention of the congregation, which wanted to pray in al-Aqsa, Judaization, occupation, destruction and deportation of the capital [Jerusalem], will not affect the determination of our people to remain loyal to the resistance and the land,” Fatah movement spokesman Atef Abu Saif said in a written statement.

Saif said incidents in Jerusalem was a result of silence of the international community before the violation of all international agreements and human rights.

Palestinian resistance group Hamas also decried the incidents and called on people to be insistent on their will to enter and leave the sacred mosque when they want.

Mustafa Barghouthi, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative movement, also condemned Israeli attacks on Muslims.

Warning of Israeli provocation to damage sacred places, he said Palestinians can fail Israel in its aims by being united and determined.

‘Places of worship are for prayer’

“I am following events at the holy esplanade in #Jerusalem with concern.” Nickolay Mladenov, UN’s envoy for Middle East peace, wrote on Twitter.

“Places of worship are for prayer, not for provocations and violence,” he added and called for restraint.

He also urged everyone to show respect for the status quo in Jerusalem.

Earlier Tuesday, Israeli forces sealed several entrances to the 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.

Tension has mounted in Jerusalem last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Aqsa compound’s Al-Rahma Gate, located adjacent to the eastern wall of the Old City, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the 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.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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