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Jordan condemns Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa during final days of Ramadan

June 28, 2016 10:28 A.M. (Updated: June 28, 2016 4:56 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Jordanian government condemned Israel’s violations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, citing recent raids into the site during the final days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when dozens of Palestinian worshipers and workers were assaulted by Israeli forces with rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters, and beaten with batons.

Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Muhammad Momani called on Israel to immediately halt the unjustified violations, and to respect the status quo as an occupying power in the Palestinian territory, which includes East Jerusalem’s Old City where the mosque stands, Jordanian media quoted him as saying.

Jordan, which runs the Waqf organization administering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, has custodianship rights over Muslim holy places in Jerusalem under its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

Momani called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for their actions and to pressure Israel to comply with international conventions as an occupying force responsible for protecting religious sites.

The statement added that Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh had contacted Israeli officials, expressing Jordan’s condemnation and utter rejection of the provocative Israeli practices, demanding that they should be stopped immediately.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that during a “special meeting” Tuesday morning, Israeli police decided to close the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to foreign and non-Muslim worshipers on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, adding that as usual, it would be closed to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays.

Al-Samri later said that 11 Muslim worshipers had been detained on Tuesday morning over suspicions that they threw stones at the Western Wall.

However, for the past several years, Jewish worshipers and foreign tourists had not been allowed inside the compound during the last ten days of Ramadan, as the days are particularly sacred to Muslims, according to the Director of the Islamic Endowment and Al-Aqsa Mosque affairs Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib.

Despite this, hundreds of Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday and Monday, as Ramadan entered its final ten days, evacuating Muslim worshipers to allow right-wing Jewish Israelis to tour the compound freely.

On Monday, at least 35 people were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, as dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation and were beaten by police with batons during clashes with Israeli forces which lasted for approximately three and a half hours. At least 12 Palestinians were injured the previous day by rubber-coated steel bullets.

Al-Samri said that large numbers of police forces deployed on Tuesday across occupied East Jerusalem and around Al-Aqsa in particular to “maintain public order.”

She added that “despite the decision” police had made to close the compound until the end of Ramadan, “masked young Muslim men hurled stones and other objects” at the Moroccan Gate entrance to Al-Aqsa, lightly injuring a woman who was at the neighboring Western Wall.

She added Israeli police officers “suppressed the stone throwers using riot dispersal means.”

The United Nations cultural heritage body UNESCO adopted a resolution regarding Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territory earlier this year, condemning Israel -- “the occupying power” -- for restricting access to Al-Aqsa for Muslim worshipers, allowing right-wing Israeli extremists to storm the site under armed guard, and called on Israel to restore the status quo which designates Jordan the exclusive authority on the compound.

The resolution passed with 26 votes for and six against, with the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany voting against.

Netanyahu slammed the language of the draft decision for ignoring Jewish ties to the holy site, and announced that he would be holding an educational seminar for UN personnel on Jewish history.

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

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Despite this agreement, the Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site -- often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.
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