The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has censured the forcible removal of Muslim worshipers from the al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the holy month of Ramadan, saying that the move amounts to declaration of a religious war against Palestinians and is an attempt to change the sacred site’s Islamic identity.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement on Monday that 50,000 Palestinian worshipers had performed Tarawih prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque despite restrictions imposed on their entry to the mosque.
“Such Israeli measures are part of the Zionist enemy’s failed attempts to impose spatial and temporal divisions on the holy site,” Abu Zuhri said, calling for the constant presence of Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard.
مشاهد من اقتحام الاحتلال للمصلى القبلي لتفريغه من المعتكفين pic.twitter.com/ZHDMdcNfl2— AlQastal القسطل (@AlQastalps) March 25, 2023
The Hamas spokesman then held the right-wing Israeli administration led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible for the repercussions of the recurrent assaults on Muslim worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque.
He called on Arab and Muslim nations to support Palestinian worshipers while they defend the mosque, urging the international community to stop Israeli attacks which are a blatant violation of Palestinians’ right to worship.
On Sunday, the Grand Mufti of al-Quds Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein slammed the Israeli police for forcibly expelling Muslim worshipers from al-Aqsa Mosque, terming the move as a serious violation against Muslims.
He underlined that such a practice constitutes a provocation to the feelings of Muslims.
"لن تركع أمّة قائدها محمّد"— AlQastal القسطل (@AlQastalps) March 25, 2023
هتافات المعتكفين بعد إخراجهم من المسجد الأقصى المبارك بالقوة. pic.twitter.com/7DYUX5rhH0
Sheikh Hussein also condemned plans by extremist groups to launch massive raids into al-Aqsa Mosque next April to celebrate Jewish holidays.
On Saturday night, a large number of Israeli police forces stormed the al-Qibli prayer building at al-Aqsa Mosque and forcibly expelled Muslim worshipers from it.
Video from the scene showed Muslim men and women praying, chanting “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is the greatest,” and shouting at police officers as the officers removed worshipers from the building and the complex.
Palestinians were blocked from entering the gates of the mosque, according to Palestinian reports. Footage from some of the gates showed Palestinians scuffling with Israeli forces who blocked the gates. A number of Palestinians were arrested at the scene.
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.
عاجل | اللحظات الأولى لإفراغ قوات الاحتلال المسجد الأقصى من المعتكفين والاعتداء عليهم عند أبوابه. pic.twitter.com/y2UFgImfsj— AlQastal القسطل (@AlQastalps) March 25, 2023
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 non-Muslim worship at the compound is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government in the wake of Israel’s occupation of East al-Quds in 1967.
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