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Hamas says settler calls for demolition of Dome of Rock ‘playing with fire’, will backfire

A Palestinian worshiper is seen at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Qud on April 22, 2022. (Photo by Wafa News Agency)

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has warned that a far-right Israeli group’s call to demolish the Dome of the Rock in the occupied Old City of al-Quds and build a temple on its ruins is “playing with fire” and will backfire on the occupying regime.

Hamas made the warning in a statement on Wednesday after the Lehava group, which has earned infamy among Palestinians as a "terrorist" outfit, put out the call in an online post, the Palestinian Information Center reported. 

Hamas censured such incitement as a “deliberate provocation of the feelings of the Palestinian people and the Muslim nation” and a “dangerous escalation against the Palestinian identity, values and holy sites.”

The Palestinian resistance movement added, “The flames that are being tampered with by such extremist groups will rebound upon" the Israeli regime and its leaders.

Hamas called on the Palestinian masses to intensify their presence at al-Aqsa Mosque to protect the holy site against intended settler break-ins and to stand firm in the face of the occupation and “its dangerous Judaization plots.”

Bentzi Gopstein, the Lehava group's ringleader, called on extremist illegal settlers to storm al-Aqsa Mosque and begin taking it apart on May 29, which falls on the anniversary of the day that the Israeli regime completed its occupation of the holy city of al-Quds — where al-Aqsa Mosque is located — during a heavily-Western-backed war in 1967.

Gopstein claimed that the Dome of the Rock's demolition would pave the way for the construction of an Israeli temple at the site.

The Lehava group's leader also published a poster on social media showing an excavator next to the Dome of the Rock, and in another poster, an excavator appears to be demolishing the holy site.

The Palestinian Authority's ministry of foreign affairs condemned Lehava's call, describing it as a "terrorist group."

Al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam's third holiest site. Extremist Israeli settlers regularly violate the compound under heavy protection provided by the Israeli military, performing prayers at the site.

This is while a longstanding agreement between the Israeli regime and Jordan, which administers the affairs of the mosque, bars non-Muslim prayer there.

More than 150,000 Palestinians thronged al-Aqsa Mosque to attend prayers on the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, known as Quds Day, amid heightened tensions over Israeli raids.

Officials from the Islamic Waqf department, which is in charge of al-Aqsa Mosque, said the participants, 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.

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