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Islamic endowment slams Israel for latest 'provocations' at Aqsa

June 13, 2016 4:07 P.M. (Updated: June 14, 2016 9:05 A.M.)
(AFP, file)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- The Islamic Endowment condemned Israeli authorities on Monday for the latest “provocations and harassment” taking place on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem amid the holy month of Ramadan, hours before right-wing Israelis entered the site under Israeli military and police escorts.

According the the Islamic Endowment, or Waqf, that runs the compound, 66 Israelis entered the compound through the Moroccan gate Monday afternoon under heavy armed guard.

Visits by such right-wing groups are viewed as provocative by many Palestinians as the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock are symbols of East Jerusalem, the desired capital for a future Palestinian state, which has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967.

Meanwhile, Israeli police banned the Waqf employee Muhamad Ruweidi from the mosque for 15 days after releasing him from detention. He was detained on Sunday at the compound among three other Palestinians after more than a hundred Israelis toured the site for a Jewish holiday and violated long-standing regulations regarding non-Muslim worship on the compound.

In a statement released earlier on Monday, Waqf slammed Israel for their policy that “seeks to deprive the Waqf of their natural and historic right to run Al-Aqsa Mosque, and deprive Muslim worshippers their opportunity to pray in it.”

The Waqf said they held Israeli authorities “fully responsible for the repercussions of the ruthless policy that encourages extremism and irrationality.” They implored the Jordanian government -- who plays a role in governing the compound -- to intervene immediately and stop the “provocations and harassment.”

The statement criticized the fact that Palestinians are being banned from the holy site during Ramadan, “at a time when Muslims look forward to dedicating their time to fasting, worshipping, and other spiritual activities in Al-Aqsa Mosque -- one of the most sacred sites in Islam.”

The statement highlighted that Israel has revoked entry permits that were recently granted to tens of thousands Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip so they can access Jerusalem to worship during Ramadan.

“Muslims wait all the year for this month,” so they can perform their prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque, the statement continued, adding that Israel’s procedures aim to “impose new facts on the ground and continue to change the religious status quo which has been maintained since 1967.”

Among the major Israeli violations in Al-Aqsa, according to the Waqf, was prohibiting the use of a new ablution place (where Muslim worshippers wash certain parts of their bodies as a prerequisite for performing prayer), which recently underwent major maintenance works. However, Israel closed it and installed surveillance cameras after raiding it several times.

Another violation cited by the Waqf was the Israeli authorities’ insistence to drive an electric vehicle into the compound through the Moroccan gate. “This is the first time a patrol vehicle has operated inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound since 1967, and this is something Israel imposed by force.”

Israeli police on Thursday also prevented Waqf officers from bringing Iftar meals into the compound for hundreds of worshippers who break their fasts inside the compound, the statement added. “This was embarrassing and unprecedented.”

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