The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says the al-Aqsa Mosque is “a red line” and any act of aggression against the holy site will face a firm response from the resistance.
The Gaza-based resistance movement made the remarks on the 52nd anniversary of Israel’s burning of the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Hamas is ready to respond, it said.
On August 21, 1969, the mosque was set on fire by an Australian settler named Dennis Michael Rohan in coordination with Israeli officials and military forces. The fire gutted the southeastern wing of the mosque.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line, and any attack on it will face the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people, and they will not allow any fire to reach this mosque again,” Hamas said in a statement on Saturday, the Palestinian Information Center reported.
The statement said the 1969 arson attack was the beginning of an extended scheme of Judaization, displacement, and demolition practiced by the Zionist regime aimed at establishing its “temple” in place of the Holy Mosque.
The al-Aqsa Mosque compound sits just above the Western Wall plaza and houses both the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
“The Operation al-Quds Sword is still going on with the Zionist regime and the resistance is prepared to respond to the occupiers' crimes against the al-Aqsa Mosque,” the resistance movement stated.
Back on May 10, the Israeli military launched a brutal bombing campaign against Gaza, following Palestinian retaliation for violent raids on worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s plans to force a number of Palestinian families out of their homes at the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East al-Quds.
About 260 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli bombardment, including dozens of women and children.
In response, Palestinian resistance movements, chief among them Hamas, launched Operation al-Quds Sword and fired more than 4,000 rockets and missiles into the occupied territories. Twelve Israelis were killed.
Apparently caught off guard by the unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 21, which Palestinian resistance movements accepted with Egyptian mediation.
Another Gaza-based resistance movement, the Islamic Jihad, also issued a statement on the fire anniversary.
“Fires continue to surround al-Aqsa Mosque in various forms and shapes, including attacks by settlers, extremist Jewish groups, and parties directly supported by Israel’s terrorist cabinet and the occupying army of the Zionist enemy,” it said.
The Islamic Jihad movement further stressed that all efforts to change the Islamic identity of al-Aqsa Mosque and the Holy City of al-Quds with malicious Zionist schemes and the cooperation of the United States and the West and the complete silence of some Arab states will not change the reality. “Al-Quds will remain an Islamic and Arab city.”
Separately on Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the arson attack and called upon the international community to provide protection from the holy sites in the occupied al-Quds city, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.
“Despite all the United Nations resolutions regarding occupied Jerusalem, which demanded Israel not to prejudice the sanctity of religious places, especially al-Aqsa Mosque, a holy Muslim site of worship, Israel still ignores those decisions and turns its back to all the dangers that could erupt as a result of its reckless and irresponsible policies,” the office of the Palestinian president said in a statement.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.