The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has warned Israeli authorities against restrictions on the entry of Palestinians to al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan and their forcible removal from the sacred site.
“We warn the occupying regime about the repercussions of attacks on pilgrims and worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque,” senior Hamas official Ismail Rizwan said in a statement on Tuesday night.
He added, “The resistance front is closely following up the situation of [Muslim] worshipers at the Al-Aqsa compound – Islam’s third-holiest site. We will defend them and our holy sites.”
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.
Moreover, Hamas spokesman in the occupied al-Quds, Mohammad Hamadeh, condemned Israeli settlers for provocative moves against Palestinian worshipers, and their continual incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds under the protection of the regime’s forces.
Hamadeh also denounced the agreement between Jewish extremists and Israeli police to extend the hours of storming al-Aqsa Mosque, stating that “Such vexatious plans developed by the occupying regime are meant to Judaize al-Aqsa Mosque and assert control over it. These attempts can never undermine its historical uniqueness or change its Islamic identity.”
He called upon Palestinians residing in the West Bank and the 1948 Israeli-occupied territories to stay put at the mosque and recite prayers so as to revive Muslim principles and values and stand up against Zionists’ attempts to distort history.
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, yet 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.