In a clear act of aggression against Islamic sites in occupied Jerusalem, Israel's Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett has opened a new place for male and female Jews to pray on a site of great importance to Muslims. Adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the heritage site was built during the Umayyad period.
According to Al-Aqsa Foundation for Religious Endowments and Heritage the move is part of Israel's Judaisation policy for the Holy City. "The Israeli occupation is increasing its Judaising activities," said the foundation, "including this new place for women to pray close to the western wall of the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa."
Israel, it added, has allocated a further £3.5 million for the Judaisation of Jerusalem, mainly for "development" projects in the Silwan district. A spokesman for the foundation described this as "alarming".
An Israeli group called "Women of the Wall" has been campaigning for the right to prayer at the western wall, which is run by Orthodox Jews for men only. The women are kept separate from the men by a barrier and are not permitted to read the Torah aloud at the wall. The new facility will overcome this restriction, it is claimed.