Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister Yusuf Adeis on Tuesday slammed Arab and Muslim “silence” in the face of increasingly frequent incursions by extremist Jewish settlers into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
“Incursions into Al-Aqsa by Jewish settlers during the holy month of Ramadan emanates from the Arab and Muslim world’s silence, along with inaction on the part of the international community,” Adeis said in exclusive comments to Anadolu Agency.
He went on to describe the recent settler incursions as “flagrant violations of Arab and Muslim sentiments, particularly during the last ten days of Ramadan [the Muslim fasting month]”, which will end in the first week of July.
Adeis also condemned Arab and Muslim “inaction” in the face of what he described as the ongoing “Judaization” of East Jerusalem and violations committed by the Israeli authorities against Muslim and Christian holy sites in the occupied city.
He went on to say that his ministry was in contact with the Jordanian authorities (which are technically responsible for East Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites) with a view to “halting Israeli violations and allowing Muslim and Christian worshippers to perform their religious obligations”.
“Israel wants to impose a fait accompli at Al-Aqsa, but we reiterate the site’s exclusively Muslim character,” Adeis said.
“It’s our right [as Muslims] to pray inside it whenever we want to,” he added.
Sunday and Monday saw clashes in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound between Muslim worshipers and Israeli police after the latter allowed large groups of extremist Jewish settlers to enter the area, which is frequently a flashpoint for violence.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Some extremist Jewish groups have called for the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that a Jewish temple might be built in its place.
In 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada” — a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.