The 50th anniversary of the arson attack on the Al Aqsa Mosque comes as the holy site witnesses almost daily confrontations between worshippers and Israeli security forces escorting hordes of fanatic Jews who break in and wreak havoc on its grounds.
Increasing in alarming numbers, such break-ins and violations take place almost daily on Muslim religious festivals, encouraged by Israeli extremist political parties and Jewish colonising fanatic groups with direct political support from the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who appears to be playing with religious fire.
Netanyahu seems determined to make provocative moves close to his upcoming elections and to divert attention from his personal and family scandals considered by Israeli courts.
He seeks to play the Jerusalem card, following his failure to form a government — which led to the dissolution of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
Such policy is aimed at changing the status quo.
Until 2000, for example, no one was allowed to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque except with the permission of the Muslim Awqaf and the mosque guards, and it was forbidden to allow Jewish tours during the last ten days of Ramadan.
The present confrontations include intrusions and violations of the sanctity of the Islamic holy sites (Christian and Muslim), attacks on worshippers including women, elderly and children.
Many are prevented from performing their religious duties. Israeli soldiers can be seen chasing some of them inside the mosque, throwing sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets and arresting some of them. This exactly was the scene in the Al Aqsa Mosque and its grounds after Eid Al Adha prayers three weeks ago.
Before that, and during the month of Ramadan, worshippers were attacked inside the Al Qibli and Al Marwani mosques (parts of Al Aqsa Mosque).
The Palestinian guards were beaten and denied treatment. All this went on with the protection of Israeli Special Forces, border guards and heavily armed police.
These attacks and systematic raids of the occupation forces and herds of the colonising settlers come as part of their incursion on Al Aqsa “the first Qibla and third holiest shrine in Islam” and its Islamic identity.
The military occupation paves the way for such moves and acts through a campaign of frequent arrests in the ranks of Muslim worshippers. It constitutes a public provocation of the feelings of millions of Muslims in Palestine and the world, and a challenge to international laws.
Also, it demonstrates a stark example of the Israeli occupation’s discriminatory nature to use force in achieving the colonial goals of the Israeli political project, including pressure on the people of Jerusalem to leave in order to empty the city of its Palestinian population.
This also includes imposing obstacles for worshippers coming to the Al Aqsa Mosque from many Palestinian towns and villages.
Such policies fall within the context of the Israeli fanatic Talmudic groups seeking to Judaise the city of Jerusalem.
At this stage, the government of Israel (unlike some Jewish Fascist ministers, parties and rightist Talmudic organisations) is not going to allow the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque.
This is not Israeli ‘generosity’ by any means, but simply because “conditions have not yet matured” from the point of view of their political calculations. The Muslim world might have a meek reaction to this bit the spirit remains and that might not allow such an extreme solution. Ditto for a majority of world public opinion.
We believe that all of the above moves, efforts and incitements are part of the present Israeli government’s policy to create a new reality by imposing the temporal and spatial division of the Al Aqsa Mosque, as happened in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.
This could be followed by the thinking that if Muslims, Arabs and the world fail to deal with the issue, the project will see a fruition at a later stage (where all of East Jerusalem will be controlled including the Old City with all its mosques and churches).
The Israeli scheme is to Judaise the entire Al Aqsa Mosque despite the struggles and heroism of the Palestinian people resisting and holding on to the land.
Indeed, they have written the finest meanings of steadfastness and dignity refusing to surrender to Israeli pressures, challenging the occupation army measures to defend their land and holy sites.
Their message to the world is that the Al Aqsa Mosque — with its status among 1.5 billion Muslims around the world — is the exclusive property of Muslims, and it cannot be divided. Any violation of its sanctity is a blatant disregard of the aspirations of Palestine.
— Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopaedia.