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Egyptian FM concerned about Aqsa sovereignty debate

Feb. 26, 2014 12:39 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 26, 2014 10:16 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egypt expressed concern Tuesday about Israeli lawmakers' debate about extending sovereignty on the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy warned in a statement that if Israel allowed Jewish extremists to "lead the political scene" at the site, it would result in an eruption of violence in the region.

The statement urged the Israeli government to fulfill its duty in stopping extremist MKs.

Fahmy added that East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state, and the Old City and the al-Aqsa are integral parts of it.

Earlier, Israeli troops and police raided the mosque complex and forcefully Palestinian worshipers and protesters ahead of a Knesset debate on the initiative to annex the mosque.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades at Muslim worshipers while protesters hurled stones.

Several worshipers were hurt as a result of the pepper spray and others were hit directly by rubber-coated bullets, witnesses said.

They added that Israeli intelligence agents stormed the Al-Aqsa complex through the Moroccan Gate and the Chain Gate and blockaded the prayer hall, closing its gates with chains.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem students who study inside the complex were denied entry, and three youths trying to access the complex though the Chain Gate were arrested, witnesses said.

Director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Azzam al-Khatib said that Israeli forces also closed the Moroccan Gate and denied Jewish extremists entry to the complex.

He added that Israeli forces later pulled out and were deployed at the main gates.

Around 50 Palestinians had spent the night inside the complex in protest of an Israeli Knesset debate, scheduled for Tuesday, over a plan to place the holy site under full Israeli jurisdiction.

Their protest was also in reaction to reports that Israeli rightist organizations had announced plans to raise Israeli flags inside the Al-Aqsa complex.
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