The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has taken strong exception to Israeli excavations at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds, calling for an immediate halt to it.
In a statement on Thursday, the Gaza-based resistance movement said the excavation work in the vicinity of the al-Aqsa Mosque poses a serious threat to the mosque compound.
“The continued excavations being carried out by the Zionist occupation authorities in the areas of the Buraq Wall (also known as the Western Wall) and Umayyad Palace pose a direct threat to the foundations and walls of the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque, and are an attempt to obliterate the Islamic and historical identities of the city of al-Quds,” read the statement.
It further warned the apartheid regime of full responsibility for “repercussions of such serious violations”, while seeking the intervention of global organizations.
“We call on the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Kingdom of Jordan which has the custodianship of the al-Aqsa Mosque to urgently stop these malicious colonial schemes and protect al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque.”
In recent months, Hamas has repeatedly warned that any Israeli attempt to seize al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied Old City of al-Quds will have “damaging consequences” for Tel Aviv.
Earlier this month, Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Israel has failed to establish any historical link with the city of Jerusalem al-Quds despite continuous excavations of sacred sites there.
“Fifty-five years of excavations and tunnel digging did not prove that there is a temple in the city,” Shtayyeh told a conference titled ‘Property Documentation and the Historical Status of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque’ in the central West Bank city of al-Bireh on June 8.
He emphasized the importance of such conferences to strengthen the Palestinian narrative and thwart the Tel Aviv regime’s systematic distortion of facts and attempts to disguise the Arab, Muslim and Christian identities of the city.
The al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Jewish visitation of al-Aqsa is permitted, but according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government following the regime’s occupation of East al-Quds in 1967, non-Muslim worship at the compound remains strictly prohibited.
In May last year, recurrent acts of violence against Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque led to an 11-day war between the Israeli regime and Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip, during which the at least 260 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed.
'Syria won’t spare any effort to stand by Palestinians’
Meanwhile, Syria's permanent representative to the United Nations, Bassam Sabbagh, has reiterated that his country will not spare any effort to stand by Palestinians in their struggle to liberate the occupied territories and restore their legitimate rights.
Speaking at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Pledging Conference on Thursday, Sabbagh said Damascus supports Palestinians’ right to establish an independent state on their land with al-Quds as its capital, and for Palestinian refugees to obtain their right of return in accordance with international law and UN resolutions – the foremost of which is Resolution 194 (1948).
He noted that Syria has for decades provided all requirements of a decent life to the Palestinian refugees but difficult economic conditions fueled by the foreign-sponsored war and sanctions have limited its ability to respond to the needs of both Syrians and Palestinians.
Sabbagh said large parts of vital infrastructure at Palestinian refugee camps in Syria have been destroyed as a result of the longstanding conflict, calling for urgent action from the international community for immediate restoration of basic services and reopening of schools and health care centers.
The Syrian diplomat further stated that UNRWA represents the international community's commitment to Palestinians' right to dignified life, and lasting solution to their decades-long plight.