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Israeli forces storm home of al-Aqsa Mosque preacher for questioning

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the preacher of al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied al-Quds.

Israeli police forces have raided the house of al-Aqsa Mosque preacher Sheikh Ekrima Sabri in al-Quds, and summoned him for questioning.

The occupation forces stormed Sabri’s house Sunday morning and called him to show up for questioning later the day at the Russian Compound in the city, the Palestinian Wafa News Agency reported.

Sabri is known for his criticism of the Israeli occupation and its attempts to impose division at the al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Quds, the third holiest site in Islam.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said in a statement that the al-Aqsa preacher will be questioned by Israel's internal spy agency, Shin Bet.

No information was yet available about the cause of the summoning. However, local media quoted Sabri as saying that he might be questioned about last week’s Israeli court decision allowing silent prayers for Jews inside the al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

“This [Israeli decision] is rejected by us all because al-Aqsa Mosque is exclusively for Muslims,” he said.

The Israeli forces have arrested 82-year old Sheikh Sabri multiple times in the past and prevented him from entering al-Aqsa Mosque for several months.

Israeli police also injured him during protests in 2017 against the placement of metal detectors at the entrances of al-Aqsa.

In a statement issued on Friday on the 31st anniversary of the Aqsa massacre, which was committed by Israeli forces, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas warned that any Israeli attempt to impose “temporal and spatial division” at the al-Aqsa Mosque will have “damaging consequences” for the occupying regime.

Hardline Israeli legislators and extremist settlers regularly storm the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied city, a provocative move that infuriates Palestinians. Such mass settler break-ins almost always take place at the behest of Tel Aviv-backed temple groups and under the auspices of the Israeli police in al-Quds.

The al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Jewish visitation of al-Aqsa is permitted, but according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government in the wake of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967, non-Muslim worship at the compound is prohibited.

Extremist Jewish settlers defile al-Aqsa Mosque under police protection

Dozens of extremist Jewish settlers escorted by police forces desecrated the al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday morning and later in the afternoon. Local sources said at least 63 settlers entered the mosque in groups via the al-Maghariba Gate and toured its courtyards under police guard.

Eyewitnesses said they saw some settlers performing prayers or rituals during their tours at the holy site.

The police closed al-Maghariba Gate after the settlers completed their morning tours but reopened it in the afternoon for the settlers’ evening tours.

Entry restrictions are imposed on Muslim worshipers at the entrances leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque and their IDs are seized during the presence of settlers inside the Mosque compound.

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