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Israeli police assault Al-Aqsa Mosque guards

Aug. 2, 2016 4:45 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 3, 2016 10:32 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli police forces reportedly assaulted one of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound guards Tuesday morning, in addition to obstructing repair works for a water pipe in the compound, according to the Islamic Waqf, the religious trust responsible for managing the compound.

The Waqf told Ma’an that Israeli policemen interrogated the guard, Majid Abdeen, while he was on duty, and hurled verbal abuse at him.

An Israeli officer then reportedly assaulted and beat Abdeen on the head.

Abdeen was taken to the hospital to treat his injuries and get an X-ray.

Israeli police also summoned three other Palestinian guards for questioning, who were identified as Samer Abu Qwedr, Hussam Abu Sneina and Abed Makya.

An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Waqf also reported that Israeli police obstructed “repair works on a water pipe in the compound, demanding that be supervised by the Israeli Department of Antiquities. "

In their statement, the Waqf refused Israel’s demand and denounced the attacks on the Al Aqsa Mosque guards, saying they considered Tuesday’s actions by Israeli police “as an attempt to impose a new reality and put pressure on Palestinian guards and worshipers in the compound.”

On Wednesday, Israeli police detained two Palestinian security guards at Al-Aqsa for allegedly assaulting and injuring Israeli settlers on the compound, an accusation rejected by eyewitnesses.

Minister of the Jordanian Waqf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat demanded Israeli authorities put an end to the escalated procedures against its employees in the Al Aqsa compound.

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.

Arabiyat also condemned in a statement Israel’s frequent intervention and presence at the compound, saying that “these interventions and assaults are illegal and a violation of the international human right laws especially the united nation and UNSCO regulated laws.”

He demanded that Israel “respect the holiness of Al-Aqsa compound” and put an end to the illegal procedures carried out constantly and halt Israeli extremist settlers from raiding the compound as well.

Arbiyat added that the Jordanian Islamic Waqf also considered the efforts of Al-Aqsa Mosque guards as part of “Palestinian resistance” and defending the Palestinian identity in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

He also reiterated the Jordanian government’s stance towards maintaining Al-Aqsa Mosque as a holy place for Muslim worshipers only.

Israeli authorities have repeatedly escalated tensions inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in recent months, particularly during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, by allowing hundreds of Israeli extremist settlers to tour the compound under armed protection and practice religious Jewish rituals, thus provoking clashes between Muslim worshipers and Israeli forces.

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 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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