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Palestinian minister alarmed about settler attacks on holy places

Aug. 12, 2008 5:55 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 12, 2008 5:55 P.M.)
Jerusalem - Ma'an - The Palestinian minister of Waqf (Endowment) and Religious Affairs, Jamal Bawatnah on Tuesday condemned the frequent assaults by Israeli settlers which culminated in an attempt to set fire to the Ar-Ras Mosque in eastern Hebron in the southern West Bank.

Extremist settlers threw garbage at the entrance to the mosque and they attacked employees and foreign solidarity activists as well as members of Temporary International Presence Hebron (TIPH) and UN employees.

Bawatnah called on Palestinian civil society institutions to counter assaults against holy places. He described such attacks "dangerous" and "barbarian."

He added that 'Israeli barbarism' would not have continued had Arab and other states not remained silent. He appealed to all Arab and international organizations to take immediate steps to stop the attacks on places of worship in Hebron and other Palestinian areas, especially Jerusalem.

The minister also highlighted that Israel plans to build a synagogue and a bridges at the Mughrebi Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, which he said could be used by Israeli police and border guards to ransack the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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