The director of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds had held the occupying Israeli regime responsible for the recent escalation in tensions at the mosque, which have been intensified since the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Speaking to Iran’s al-Alam Arabic-language news network on Saturday, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani berated the regime for allowing illegal Israeli settlers to defile the compound under the protection of the regime’s forces during the holy month.
His remarks came amid the latest wave of attacks on Palestinian worshippers by Israeli forces and settlers.
In their most serious bout of aggression, the forces injured more than 150 worshipers at the compound last Saturday.
Kiswani said, "The goal behind attacks and provocations by extremist Zionist elements is to create chaos. We consider the occupying entity responsible for these attacks. This regime supports attacks by extremist elements and provides them with necessary means" to do so.
Over the recent days, the Israeli forces have laid a siege on the holy occupied city of al-Quds’ Old City, where the compound is located, and have started barring Palestinians between the ages of 40 to 45 from paying visits to the compound.
In the meantime, extremist Israeli settlers have been converging freely on the compound under heavy protection provided by the Israeli troops.
During his interview, Al-Kiswani warned that the siege and the age cap that Tel Aviv has been enforcing against Palestinians “indicates that we should expect more tensions” during the remainder of Ramadan.
“We believe that al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to Muslims and do not share it with anyone,” the cleric said, adding, “Not even one centimeter of the mosque’s area can be either divided or shared” with others.
He added that all claims by the Zionist regime and its affiliated media are hoax.
“What we see in reality is extensive presence of the regime’s police and putting up more checkpoints as well as setting an age limit for the entry of people into al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said.
Al-Kiswani urged the leaders of the Arab and Muslim countries to fulfill their responsibility toward the holy al-Aqsa Mosque, saying, "Our connection to this mosque is not based on nationality, but is rooted in ideology."
Kiswani's remarks came after at least 150,000 Palestinians thronged al-Aqsa Mosque to attend Friday prayers amid heightened tensions over Israeli raids.
Officials from the Islamic Waqf department, which is in charge of the al-Aqsa Mosque, said about 150,000 people, mostly Palestinians from the al-Quds, the West Bank, and the Israeli occupied territories, offered prayers at the mosque compound defying restrictions imposed on the entry of worshipers to the holy site.