Ramallah: Defying Israeli restrictions and heavy security, thousands of Palestinians from the 1948 areas poured into occupied East Jerusalem to protect the Al Aqsa Mosque from colonists as they paraded the city to mark the annexation of the East during the 1967 war.

Several institutions, organisations and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on Saturday urged residents of occupied East Jerusalem and the 1948 areas to resist the Israeli celebrations.

Classes were suspended in schools in all the Arab neighbourhoods yesterday and the pupils headed to Al Aqsa Compound to spend the day praying and touring religious and historic sites.

The Israeli Police instructed commercial establishements and shops to shut down their businesses to avoid friction with colonists. Sources told Gulf News that outlets which remained open had to pay a 50,000-shekel (Dh48,000) fine.


Tens of thousands of Israelis were to start their parade from Bab Al Amoud heading to the Arab neighbourhoods near Al Aqsa Compound.

Israeli colonists will start their parade from the Sultan Sulaiman Street heading to Al Saherah and Al Asbat gates of Al Aqsa Compound to end up at Al Buraq Wall.

Shaikh Yousuf Edaise, head of the Palestinian Higher Judicial Council, urged the Palestinians to defend Al Aqsa and spend the next few days in the holy compound. He said that the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims should be on alert over Israeli plans for occupied East Jerusalem. He expected the colonists to storm the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Shaikh Mohammad Hussain, the Grand Mufti of Palestine and occupied Jerusalem, urged Muslims from around the world to come to Al Aqsa Mosque to defend it from Jews and the colonists.

Ahmad Sub Laban, a Palestinian activist in occupied East Jerusalem, told Gulf News that the provocative Israeli celebrations usually draw violent confrontations with the Palestinians.

He said that the thousands of colonists will perform dances and rituals in the centre of the Arab neighbourhoods and inside Al Aqsa Compound, chanting anti-Arab and Muslim slogans.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) condemned in strongest terms the Israeli celebrations and described the event as direct and undisputed examples of a lack of intention to achieve peace.

Dr Wasel Abu Yousuf, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Gulf News that the celebrations are meant to show the world that Israel is not interested in peace.

Palestinians want occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian independent state.