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Israel restricts access to Aqsa to establish 'daily Jewish prayer'

Aug. 30, 2015 4:46 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 30, 2015 10:15 P.M.)
(MaanImages)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment said Sunday that Israel is imposing severe restrictions on Palestinian entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in a bid to initiate a daily schedule for Jewish prayer at the holy site.

The allegation, which echoes concerns expressed by Palestinian worshipers and the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came as restrictions for Palestinian worshipers to the compound ran into the second consecutive week.

Israeli officers inspected all Palestinian men entering the compound and denied entry to a number of men below the age of 40, worshipers said. They added that many others were asked to leave their identity cards at Israeli checkpoints outside entry gates.

Meanwhile, around 30 right-wing Jews were allowed into the compound through the Moroccan gate under heavily Israeli police escort, worshipers told Ma'an.

The Moroccan gate is typically used by non-Muslims to enter the Aqsa compound who are allowed inside during designated times of the day.

While non-Muslims are allowed inside, non-Muslim prayer is banned and worshipers say that recently the gate has been designated for use almost entirely by extremist Jewish groups heading to pray in the compound.

The director of the Ministry of Endowment's Jerusalem office, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, condemned the "daily occurrence in the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque," saying that all Palestinian women were being denied entry to the compound before 11 a.m.

He called on Arab and Islamic countries to respond to Israeli practices at and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Ihad Sabri, the headmistress of Al-Aqsa's religious school, said that Israeli police officers were continuing to impede the entry of schoolgirls and faculty members to the holy site.

"Israeli police temperamentally decide when and how to allow schoolgirls and teachers to their school inside al-Aqsa compound," she said.

When asked about recent restrictions, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an: "There are no restrictions as far as I know."

However, he confirmed that "there are a number of specific people that have not been permitted entry after being involved in a number of incidents over the last two weeks."

(MaanImages)

Women who were denied entry in the morning organized a sit-in protest outside the Chain Gate raising posters expressing their right to pray in the compound.

The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

Following Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained an agreement with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa compound not to allow non-Muslim prayer in the area.

Jewish prayer is allowed at the neighboring Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Second Temple.

However, Israeli forces have regularly escorted Jewish visitors to the Al-Aqsa compound, leading to anger among Muslim worshipers.

At the end of June, International Crisis Group reported discussions between Israel and the Islamic trust in Jordan on allowing non-Muslim worship at the site, although the move has not been confirmed.

Last week, the official Wafa news agency reported that the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs was concerned that Israel intends to divide the holy Mosque between Muslims and Jews.

Wafa reported: "Palestinians worry that if Jewish visitors were allowed to pray in the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque's yards on [a] daily basis, it would eventually lead to a permanent change, which will result in full Israeli control and [a] ban on Muslims’ entry and prayer."

(MaanImages)
Comments
Joe Fattal / USA
Al-Aqsa is still a Mosque regardless what is bury underneath if any, or what was there instead thousands of years ago. The Place is still a Mosque and look like a Mosque. If the Jews want to pray in a Mosque and If I was a Muslim I would welcome them with open arms.
30/08/2015 17:15
T.J. / USA
This is the holiest site for Jews but only the 3rd holiest for Muslims. It is perfectly reasonable for the Jews to have control and pray there.
30/08/2015 20:58
izzy / usa
where an how is it the 3rd holiest site in islam? ? when did that happen. the area is mentioned in the torah, hundreds of times. never in the koran.
31/08/2015 15:40
ian / australia (1)
"where an how is it the 3rd holiest site in islam? ?" The 1,300-year-old Muslim shrines could be a giveaway, izzy. "when did that happen." In the seventh century at the advent of Islam. "the area is mentioned in the torah, hundreds of times. never in the koran." Yes, but where is "the area"?
01/09/2015 11:13
ian / australia (2)
(contd.) The temples are mentioned hundreds of times but they weren't ON the Aqsa. Torah is very clear. They were over the Gihon spring on the Ophel in Silwan where David built the Taberanacle. Any more nuggets of wisdom, izzy?
01/09/2015 11:14
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