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Israeli troops raid al-Aqsa's Dome of Rock after razing mosque

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)
This picture shows debris at the site of a mosque demolished by Israeli forces in the northern occupied West Bank town of Douma, on November 4, 2021. (Photo by Shehab news agency)

The Palestinian Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs has condemned the Israeli regime over demolition of a mosque in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, describing the move a “clear attack on the holy sites and religious places for Muslims.”

Husam Abu al-Rub, undersecretary of the ministry, slammed the demolition, saying it “violates international and humanitarian norms.”

“This act is a clear challenge to the feelings of Muslims, and it requires us to take a serious stand to prevent its recurrence and the expansion of this occupation that spares no opportunity to push the entire region into a religious war, in its continuous encroachment on our Islamic sanctities,” he said in a statement.

Abu al-Rub called on the international community and religious institutions to prevent further “violations of our sanctities and places of worship.”

According to Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israeli settlement activities and settler aggression in the West Bank, Israeli forces on Thursday morning escorted a bulldozer into the town of Douma and razed the mosque to the ground.

Daghlas added that the mosque was built two years ago on a Palestinian-owned piece of land.

He noted that Israeli forces also destroyed farm roads in the southern part of the town.

Suleiman Dawabsheh, head of the local council in Douma, said the demolished mosque spread over 60 square meters, and residents of the town frequently visited the mosque for prayers.

The official said the Israeli army razed the mosque on the grounds that it was built on an area classified as Area C without a permit.

Area C of the West Bank constitutes about 61 percent of the territory. Under the 1995 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), control of the area was supposed to be gradually handed over to the PA. Instead, Israel retains total control until today.

Area C is currently home to 300,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are Bedouins and herding communities who predominantly live in tents and caravans and caves.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli forces demolished at least 698 Palestinian-owned structures and displaced 949 Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank and East al-Quds since the beginning of this year.

Israeli forces storm Dome of the Rock at al-Aqsa Mosque

Separately, Israeli forces stormed the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday in order to prevent maintenance work.

The Palestinian Information Center, citing local sources, reported that Israeli police officers tried to prevent electrical maintenance work by the Reconstruction Committee.

The report added that altercations took place between the director of the Reconstruction Committee, Bassam al-Hallaq, and Israeli police, who threatened to take him to a detention center in al-Quds.

At least 126 extremist Jewish Israeli settlers stormed al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday morning and carried out tours in its courtyards.

They performed Talmudic rituals at the site, which is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Hardline Israeli legislators and 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.

Back in May, frequent acts of violence against Palestinian worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque led to an 11-day war between Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip and the Israeli regime, during which the regime killed at least 260 Palestinians, including 66 children.

Palestinians want the occupied West Bank as part of their future independent state and view al-Quds’ eastern sector as the capital of their future sovereign state.

ICC: Israel systematically targets Palestinian journalists

Additionally, a group of lawyers said in a complaint filed with the International Criminal Court on Wednesday that Israel is systematically targeting journalists to prevent their coverage of human rights violations in the occupied territories.

The lawyers are working on behalf of four Palestinian journalists, identified as Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Armaneh and Nedal Eshtayeh, who were either killed or maimed by Israeli snipers while reporting Great March of Return demonstrations in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel systematically targets, attacks, maims and kills journalists to prevent accountability for its human rights violations,” Tayab Ali, a partner at London-based Bindmans, one of the involved law firms, said. “This cannot be allowed to continue.”

Ali said the complaint was submitted “with the aim of finally ending Israel’s impunity and allowing the free press to properly and safely hold the Israeli authorities to account”.

It notes that, along with systematically targeting journalists working in Palestine, Israel has failed to investigate their murders.

The complaint also cites the bombing of several towers in Gaza City, which housed media offices, by the Israeli military during last May’s onslaught.

Bindmans, along with barristers from Doughty Street Chambers, filed the complaint on behalf of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate and the International Center of Justice for Palestinians were also closely involved.

“The targeting of journalists and media organizations in Palestine violates the right to life and freedom of expression. These crimes must be fully investigated. This systematic targeting must stop. The journalists and their families deserve justice,” Anthony Bellanger, the IFJ's general secretary, said in a statement on Wednesday.

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