Scores of Israelis storm Al-Aqsa compound for Passover

By Fatima Abu Sbitan

JERUSALEM (AA) – Scores of Jewish settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover.

"Israeli police allowed 167 settlers to storm the compound in celebration of Passover," an official with the Religious Endowments Authority, a Jordan-run authority responsible for overseeing the city's Muslim and Christian holy sites, told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

He said the commander of Israeli police was among the settlers who forced their way into the flashpoint site.

Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt during the time of Prophet Moses, is considered one of the most important holidays on the Jewish religious calendar.

Last year, more than 1,500 settlers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa compound during Passover.

For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount", claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.

Israel gov't minister, supporters enter J'lem's Al-Aqsa

            By Abdel Raouf Arnaout <br>

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, along with a number of Israeli police and supporters, entered Jerusalem’s flashpoint on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday, according to a Palestinian official.

“Ariel forced his way into the mosque compound accompanied by a group of Jewish extremists,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority (tasked with overseeing East Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites), said in a statement.

Known for his right-wing views, Ariel has taken part in a number of earlier incursions into the mosque compound.

Last year, Israeli police issued an edict allowing Israeli politicians to enter the site once a month.

Tension in Jerusalem has mounted since February, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Rahma Gate (located adjacent to the eastern wall of Jerusalem's Old City) — a move that sparked angry Palestinian demonstrations at the time.

In the two months since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, which Muslims regard as the world’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

In late 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a five-year-long popular uprising in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the territory in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Palestinians slam Israeli court verdict on Bab al-Rahma

By Fatma Abu Sbitan

JERUSALEM (AA) – An Israeli court decision to extend the closure of Bab al-Rahma mosque in the occupied city of East Jerusalem has drawn widespread Palestinian condemnations.

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Sunday accepted a request by the Israeli attorney-general to renew the closure of the mosque, one of several mosques located in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

The decision "aims to consolidate the Israeli grip on the whole Al-Aqsa Mosque compound," the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Jerusalem's Supreme Muslim Council, for its part, said Israeli courts don't have any jurisdiction on the Al-Aqsa complex.

In a statement, the council said it did not receive yet any official note about the extension of the mosque closure.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, the head of the council, described the court decision as "invalid".

"We consider that Al-Aqsa Mosque is not subject to any decision issued by Israeli courts," Sabri said. "We will not abide by any Israeli decision related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

The Bab al-Rahma Mosque was first closed by the Israeli authorities in 2003. In 2017, an Israeli court renewed the closure order.

In mid-February, Jerusalem's Religious Endowments Authority (a Jordan-run agency mandated with overseeing the city’s Islamic and Christian holy sites) reopened the mosque following Palestinian protests.

Sunday's decision came amid tension in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Aqsa Mosque's Rahma Gate, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

UPDATE – Israeli court orders closure of Aqsa’s Rahma gate

UPDATES WITH JORDAN'S CONDEMNATION

JERUSALEM (AA) – An Israeli court on Sunday ordered the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound's Rahma Gate in East Jerusalem, according to local media.

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court accepted a request by the government to temporarily order the closure of the gate, located adjacent to the eastern wall of Jerusalem's Old City.

The Israeli court's decision quickly drew fire from Jordan, which is responsible for Jerusalem's Islamic and Christian holy sites, saying it rejects any "prejudice to its historical situation".

"East Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque, is part of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967 and it does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Israeli judiciary under international law," the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Jordan demanded Israel revoke the decision and held it totally responsible for any serious consequences of the verdict.

Sunday's ruling came amid tension in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the gate, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Israel arrests guard from Al-Aqsa amid mounting tension

By Fatma Abu Sbitan

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli police detained a guard at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as he left the flashpoint site on Sunday, according to Palestinian authorities.

"The guard was arrested as he went out from Al-Majlis gate, one of the Al-Aqsa mosque gates," Jerusalem's Religious Endowments Authority, a Jordan-run agency mandated with overseeing the city's Muslim and Christian holy sites, said in a brief statement.

It said the guard has been taken into custody for interrogation.

It remains unclear the reason for the guard's arrest, which came shortly after an Israeli court ordered the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound's Rahma Gate, located adjacent to the eastern wall of Jerusalem's Old City.

Tension has mounted in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the gate, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israeli court orders closure of Aqsa’s Rahma gate

JERUSALEM (AA) – An Israeli court on Sunday ordered the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound's Rahma Gate in East Jerusalem, according to local media.

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court accepted a request by the government to temporarily order the closure of the gate, located adjacent to the eastern wall of Jerusalem's Old City.

Sunday's ruling comes amid tension in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the gate, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

UPDATE – Turkish president slams 'tyrant' Israeli premier

  UPDATES WITH NEW REMARKS FROM RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN</p>  <p>By Aybuke Inal and Baris Gundogan<br> </p>  <p>ANKARA - Turkey’s president said the Israeli premier was a &quot;tyrant massacring Palestinian children&quot; on Wednesday.<br> </p>  <p>Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in Ankara to attend a mass opening ceremony, slammed Benjamin Netanyahu for his remarks on Tuesday.</p>  <p>Erdogan also criticized Israel over its assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, saying the Turkish nation would raise its voice for any attack against the mosque.</p>  <p>The Turkish president said Turkey will stand against every Israeli attack targeting Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Turkish people would not be silent, even if the rest of the world refused to speak.</p>  <p>He said Turkey would continue its struggle for Jerusalem until the city is administrated in a way that is appropriate with its importance to the Islamic world.</p>  <p>In addition, Erdogan warned Israel that Turkey would call it to account for its attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in front of the international community.</p>  <p>Tensions have mounted in Jerusalem since February, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Aqsa compound’s Al-Rahma Gate, located adjacent to the eastern wall of the Old City, sparking Palestinian demonstrations.<br> </p>  <p>In the weeks since, Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians -- including religious officials -- from entering the compound, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.<br> </p>  <p>Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.</p>  <p>Speaking at 5th International Benevolence Awards ceremony at Bestepe Congress Center on Wednesday evening, Erdogan said: “If there is a tyrant in the world, it is you,&quot; referring to Netanyahu.</p>  <p>&quot;Are not you the one who keeps thousands of children, women and old people in jail because of election in Israel? Aren't you the one who tyrannizes them?&quot; the Turkish president said.</p>  <p>He slammed the European leaders, who attended an EU-Arab summit in Egypt just after a mass execution of young men by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.</p>  <p>&quot;How can you respond to Sisi's invitation while the execution is forbidden in the EU?&quot; Erdogan questioned.</p>  <p>The two-day EU-Arab summit in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh last month saw heavy attendance by European officials despite Egypt’s execution of nine young men over the 2015 assassination of Hisham Barakat, Egypt's prosecutor-general.</p>  <p>Egypt has remained beset by violence and turmoil since the army deposed Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, in a 2013 coup.</p>  <p>Earlier, a senior aide to the Turkish president also lashed out at remarks by Israel's prime minister targeting the Turkish leader.<br> </p>  <p>Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Benjamin Netanyahu attacked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan &quot;for exposing the Israeli leader's racist remarks towards Arabs and Muslims&quot;.<br> </p>  <p>Netanyahu had said on Tuesday that Israel is &quot;a nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people.&quot;<br> </p> <p><br></p>  <p>* Writing by Can Erozden, Gozde Bayar and Jeyhun Aliyev

Scores of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa amid tension

By Abdel Raouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – Scores of Israeli settlers forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday amid tension in the occupied city.

"Roughly 59 extremists, 80 Jewish students and 3 Israeli intelligence agents stormed the Al-Aqsa compound today," Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority, a Jordan-run agency tasked with overseeing the city's Muslim and Christian sites, said in a statement.

The move came a few hours after Israeli police reopened the holy site after a one-day closure.

In a related development, settler groups called for large-scale settler incursions into the flashpoint site on Thursday to protest the opening of the mosque’s Al-Rahma Gate, located adjacent to the eastern wall of the Old City.

On Tuesday, Israeli police shut the Al-Aqsa compound on claims of an arson attack on an Israeli police station near the site, triggering clashes with angry Palestinians.

Around 16 Palestinians were injured in the violence, according to Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority.

Israeli police said its forces had arrested 10 Palestinians, including two minors, for allegedly setting the fire.

Tension has mounted in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Aqsa compound’s Al-Rahma Gate, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Al-Azhar decries Israeli assaults in Al-Aqsa Mosque

By Hussein Qabani

CAIRO (AA) – Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Islamic world, has condemned Israeli assaults on worshippers in East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Cairo-based institution described the Israeli assaults as a “flagrant violation of the sanctity of holy sites”.

The assaults are “a continuation of repressive measures against Jerusalem, its people and holy sites, which provoke the sentiments of Muslims around the world,” it said.

It reiterated the right of the Palestinians to “dignity, freedom and sovereignty on their land and holy sites”, going on to call on the international community to pressure Israel to respect UN resolutions.

On Wednesday, Israeli police reopened Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, one day after it closed the site following an alleged arson attack on a nearby police station.

The closure of the flashpoint sites had triggered clashes with angry Palestinians, during which at least 16 people were injured.

Israeli police said its forces had arrested 10 Palestinians, including two minors, for allegedly setting the fire.

Tension has mounted in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Aqsa compound’s Al-Rahma Gate, located adjacent to the eastern wall of the Old City, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

  • Writing by Ali Abo Rezeg

Israeli police reopen Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque

By Abdel Raouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli police on Wednesday reopened East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after a one-day closure.

The holy site was reopened shortly before the dawn prayers, according to local residents.

Israeli police shut the compound on Tuesday on claims of an arson attack on an Israeli police station near the site, triggering clashes with angry Palestinians.

Around 16 Palestinians have been injured in the violence, according to Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority, a Jordan-run agency tasked with overseeing the city’s Muslim and Christian sites.

Israeli police said its forces had arrested 10 Palestinians, including two minors, for allegedly setting the fire.

Tension has mounted in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Aqsa compound’s Al-Rahma Gate, located adjacent to the eastern wall of the Old City, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians — including religious officials — from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.