AL-QUDS – For the first time since 1967, according to several reports, Israeli authorities have closed on Thursday, October 30, Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Al-Quds (Occupied Jerusalem) following the shooting of a far-right Jewish rabbi.
“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina quoted him as saying by Agence France Presse (AFP).
“We hold the Israeli government responsible for this dangerous escalation in Jerusalem that has reached its peak through the closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque this morning,” he added.
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Announced by Israel’s public security minister early on Thursday, Muslim worshipers were prohibited from entering the mosque “until further notice”.
Following the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered “a significant hike” in the number of police forces patrolling Jerusalem.
“Israeli authorities shut the Al Aqsa Mosque entirely since dawn,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Jordan-run Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Anadolu Agency.
Al-Khatib said that the holy site has never been shut since 1967, when Israel occupied Al-Quds.
“We are holding contacts to reopen the mosque to Muslim worshippers,” al-Khatib said.
The Israeli closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound came shortly after Jewish rabbi Yehuda Glick was seriously injured in a drive-by shooting in Jerusalem late Wednesday.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed to Ma’an only that a “known right-wing activist” had been shot.
The attack was reported after a conference focused on the reconstruction of a Jewish temple on top of the al-Aqsa mosque was concluded at the center, with top right-wing Jewish officials and activists in attendance.
Yehuda Glick is an American-born Israeli and the chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, an extremist Jewish organization focused on “strengthening the relationship between Israel and the Temple Mount.”
He has been previously banned by Israeli authorities from entering the compound due to provocations while on the site.
Later on Thursday, Israeli police announced killing Moataz Hejazi, 32, a Palestinian who had spent 11 years in an Israeli jail and was released in 2012.
The Israeli decision to close Al-Aqsa, the world Muslims’ third holiest site, has been described irrational and dangerous through several words of condemnation.
“We lay responsibility for this decision on the Israeli government and police,” Al- Omar Al-Kiswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Russia Today.
Kiswani added that the decision would lead to destabilization and a strengthening of tensions not only in Al-Quds, but in the entire region.
Earlier this month, Abbas warned his government would appeal to international law to deal with alleged Israeli “aggression” against Al-Aqsa.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned that his government will seek international “legal measures” to deal with Israeli “aggression” against Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.
Al-Aqsa is the Muslims’ first Qiblah [direction Muslims take during prayers] and it is the third holiest shrine after Al Ka`bah in Makkah and Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
Its significance has been reinforced by the incident of Al Isra’a and Al Mi’raj — the night journey from Makkah to Al-Quds and the ascent to the Heavens by Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him.)
Jordan has been supervising Al-Aqsa Mosque and other endowments in Al-Quds since 1948.
Israel occupied the holy city of Al-Quds, the West Bank and Golan Heights in the 1967 war and later annexed them in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.
Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of Al-Quds, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.
Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine on Thursday, the first EU country in Western Europe to do so, reflecting growing international exasperation over the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process.