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Military wings in Gaza warn Israel Al-Aqsa policies will 'explode in the region'

July 18, 2017 11:44 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2017 10:27 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Military wings of various political factions in the besieged Gaza Strip warned Israel against continuing its restrictive policies at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem during a press conference on Tuesday, saying that Israel’s “offensive” on Al-Aqsa represents a “spark that will explode in the region.”

“We will have our strong and supreme word if Zionist plans against Al-Aqsa continue,” the groups warned in the press conference. “We will not allow our enemy to invade our Al-Aqsa, our holy sites, and our people in Jerusalem.”

The military wings then saluted the people of Jerusalem and called upon all Palestinians to support Al-Aqsa.

Israeli authorities have imposed heightened restrictions at Al-Aqsa following a deadly attack that left three assailants and two police officers -- all Palestinian citizens of Israel -- dead in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City on Friday.

Worshipers have performed prayers at the Lions’ Gate leading to Al-Aqsa since the attack to express their rejection of newly imposed Israeli security procedures -- including the installation of metal detectors and security cameras at the entrances of Al-Aqsa.

The holy compound was also closed to Muslim worshipers for more than two days following the deadly shoot-out, marking the first time since 2014 that the mosque was closed to worshipers and the first time since 1967 it was closed for Friday prayers.

Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem called for continued actions against the policies on Tuesday, and confirmed that Palestinians were still refusing to go through metal detectors and have continued performing prayers outside of the holy site in protest.

Palestinians have expressed fear that Israeli policies restricting Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa could change the status-quo of the site -- as what was done to the Ibrahimi Mosque, now divided into a synagogue for Israeli settlers and a mosque for Palestinians, in Hebron in 1994 following an Israeli-led massacre of Palestinian worshipers. To this day, Palestinians in Hebron must pass an Israeli-installed checkpoint in order to access the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Palestinians have long accused the Israeli government of using Israeli-Palestinian violence and tensions as a means of furthering control over important sites in the Palestinian territory.

Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, the site is open to all groups during designated visitation times.

Palestinians have expressed concerns that Israel has been attempting to shake up the status quo at the holy site, in the shape of routine Jewish incursions on the site and right-wing Israeli calls to demolish the mosque and replace it with a third Jewish temple.
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