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Mash'al: Israel wants to divide Al-Aqsa

Oct. 25, 2009 7:39 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 26, 2009 8:44 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an – Hamas’ top political official, Khalid Mash'al, warned that Israel could attempt to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem in a televised news conference from Damascus on Sunday evening.

"It was the first time Israeli army locked the gates of the mosque with chains, barring the call to prayer, breaking into its yards for long periods of time," Mash’al said in remarks denouncing an Israeli police raid early on Sunday that sparked a day of demonstrations.

"These acts are intended to divide Al-Aqsa and force their [Jews’] religious rituals on it," he added.

Mash’al may have been alluding to the division of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, half of which is controlled by Israeli settlers.

Mash’al also struck a chord of Muslim-Christian solidarity in his address. He said that among those who holed themselves up inside the Mosque on Sunday in response to the Israeli intrusion were Palestinians from inside Israel and Christians.

"Jerusalem for us, as Palestinians, is all of Jerusalem with all of its land, residents and its Islamic symbols … the Jews have no right to it," he also said.

"Jerusalem’s fate will not be decided in negotiations but in the balance of confrontation and resistance," he added.

On Monday, Mash'al's Syrian hosts condemned Israeli activities at the Al-Aqsa compound.

"We believe that Israeli forces' invasion of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the encircling of its worshippers are part of an Israeli plan to Judaize Jerusalem and destroy the mosque," the AFP quoted a senior official as saying.
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