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Israel imposes blanket ban on Gazans visiting Al Aqsa Mosque
December 17, 2016, 11:13 am

Restrictions on Palestinians come as Jewish raids on Al Haram Al Sharif intensify

In the latest form of collective punishment against Palestinians, the Israeli regime has imposed a blanket ban on Palestinians living in Gaza from visiting Al Haram Al Sharif in occupied East Jerusalem.

Over the past two years, Israel has allowed organised trips for between 200 and 250 Gazans to visit and pray at Al Aqsa Mosque in Al Haram Al Sharif, the third holiest Muslim site.

The Israeli regime considers these trips as a “reward” for Gazans when there is no military resistance against Israel. No reason was provided by the Israeli regime for the sudden ban.

Israel has been imposing restrictions on Palestinians in Al Haram Al Sharif to pave the way for more colonists to raid the holy shrine and perform their Jewish and Talmudic rituals inside the holy site.

Under a status quo agreement, Jews may visit Al Haram Al Sharif, but may not perform religious rituals there. Radical Jewish groups have been campaigning to encourage even more illegal raids on Al Haram Al Sharif.

Palestinians from the 1948 areas and residents of occupied Jerusalem have been on the front lines of defending the holy Muslim site. Defenders of Al Aqsa Mosque, known as Al Murabiteen, have been able to successfully discourage Jewish raids on the holy Muslim site by various means, including by gathering to shout at the invaders.

But Israel has taken draconian measures to curb their presence there, including denying them medical insurance or even revoking their identity cards. Scores of them have been banned from the holy shrine for between one and six months, in a systematic policy aimed at erasing the Arab and Muslim identity from Jerusalem.

Attempts by the Israeli regime to change the status quo agreement have led to an escalation of violence and tensions. Since October 2015, 265 Palestinians, 35 Israelis and three foreign nationals have been killed in the escalating violence. Jewish raids usually happen under the protection of Israeli police.

Last week, Israel increased the number of hours Jews are allowed to enter the holy site from three to four hours. Speaking to Gulf News, Shaikh Ekrimi Sabri, Jerusalem’s grand Muslim cleric said Israel simply sent a letter to the Waqf department which is in charge of managing Al Haram Al Sharif, alerting them of the extension of the visiting hours.

“This is part of Israel’s systematic campaign to impose new facts on the ground,” he said. Al Haram Al Sharif is built on top of the ancient remnants of the Temple Mount, a site sacred in Judaism, but was destroyed in the 4th century by the Romans, during their rule.

Al Haram Al Sharif site houses both Al Aqsa Mosque which was originally commissioned to be built under Omar, the second Caliph in Islam, in the 7th century, and the Dome of the Rock which houses the rock from which Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) ascended to heaven, according to Islamic teachings.

Palestinians fear Israel intends to take over the Muslim holy site altogether and eventually destroy it. A new waiting area was recently opened at Al Magarebah Gate, in order to give Jews a place to relax before raiding Al Haram Al Sharif.

Israel has also banned Palestinians from burying their dead in specific parts of Bab Al Rahma cemetery, a resting place for many of the city’s historic figures.

The regime plans to turn the cemetery into a public park for Jews who live in nearby colonies. Israel has also removed Arabic signage from many streets in Occupied Jerusalem replacing them instead with Hebrew signs.

Source: Gulf News

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