AMMAN: Israeli soldiers used force to clear worshippers and protestors from Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday morning, to allow over a thousand Jewish extremists to enter Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound.
Members of the Israel Defense Force then failed to stop the extremists from praying at the site, violating a long-standing agreement forbidding Jewish prayer in the compound.
Soldiers fired stun grenades and tear gas into the Muslim shrine, causing injuries to worshippers and damage to Islam’s third holiest site.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry sent an official letter of protest, calling on Israel “to stop its violations and provocations, respect the historical and legal status quo, respect the sanctity of the mosque and the freedom of worshipers, and respect the authority of the Jordan-run Jerusalem Endowment Department and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs.”
The Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem said the interruption took place during Islam’s holy week leading up to Eid Al-Adha, which will be marked on Tuesday. “Today is the holy day which precedes the ascension to Arafah and Eid Al-Adha,” it said.
According to the Jewish calendar, Sunday was the Jewish Tisha b’Av day of remembrance of the destruction of the Jewish temples more than 2,000 years ago.
The first temple, revered by Jews at the site of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, is said to have been destroyed back in 586 B.C., and the second temple in A.D. 70.
Daifallah Al-Fayez, spokesman for the Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said the “Israeli actions against the mosque represent a violation of the historical and legal status quo, international law, and Israel’s obligations as an occupying power in East Jerusalem.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Jews who wanted to ascend to the compound should be allowed to do so in an orderly fashion. No official contacts exist between Israel and the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.
Jordan’s King Abdullah had extracted a commitment from the former Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu in the presence of former US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014 to reserve Al-Aqsa for Muslims to pray at, and for all others to visit.
The public prayer by the Jewish extremists on Sunday, which was displayed on Israeli media, violates this agreement, and is considered a break with the status quo since the Israeli occupation in 1967.
Jordan’s ruling Hashemite royal family is the custodian of Jerusalem’s holy sites, and both Israel and the international community accept this.
King Abdullah is expected to meet US President Joe Biden on Monday, and the issue of Jerusalem will most likely be on the agenda.
Meanwhile, Arab Israelis and Palestinians alike flocked to defend Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa. Knesset member Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, denounced the attacks on the compound, and laid into Bennett’s new government, dubbed the “Government of Change” by its members.
“A month after the flag parade, the ‘Government of Change’ continues with the violence and repression in Al-Aqsa, the Nablus Gate, and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. But shootings, batons, and stun grenades only reinforce the simple truth: There is an entire nation here under occupation and it’s our right to be liberated from it,” Odeh said.
Knesset member Ahmad Tibi lashed out at the new Israeli government, saying: “The ‘Government of Change’ has surrendered to right-wing extremists on everything, including the occupied Jerusalem. ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘Rebuild the Temple’ demonstrations are a violation of the historic status quo. They’re fully responsible for whatever may happen today,” he tweeted.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held the Israeli government fully responsible for the escalation.
“Attacks by Israeli forces and settlers on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound provoke our people’s sentiments and (are) a grave danger to the region’s stability/ security,” Abbas said in a statement.
Sabri Sidem, deputy secretary-general of Fatah, said the silence of the world had encouraged the occupiers. “What is happening at Al-Aqsa clearly shows how the world’s silence encourages aggression in Al-Aqsa Mosque.”