The Grand Shaikh of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Ekrema Sabri has accused the Israelis of trying to create a new reality inside Al-Aqsa Mosque through repeated incursions by illegal Jewish settlers. An intensive campaign of "visits" by extremist Jews and even Members of the Knesset has been taking place in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam.
"They want to create a divided holy site based on time and place," explained Shaikh Sabri to MEMO. "Israel plans to ban Muslims from being in the mosque courtyards from the morning until midday, with a section of the sanctuary reserved only for Jews." The plan, added the Grand Shaikh, was adopted by the previous right-wing government and will be adopted by the new right-wing government.
To counter Israel's plans, Shaikh Sabri said that the Muslims of Jerusalem are carrying out measures such as encouraging Shari'ah education inside the mosque. "This kind of education maintains an Islamic presence within the Mosque." The people also carry out protests and other popular actions, he pointed out.
MEMO has been told that 28 well-known Palestinian figures in Jerusalem have signed a petition which has been presented to seven Arabic and Islamic countries asking them to take action to stop the Israeli aggression in Al-Aqsa.
When the groups of Jewish settlers enter the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa they are always accompanied by a large military and police presence. The armed forces have stopped Muslims from entering the mosque for worship and blocked female students from attending lessons in the sanctuary.
On at least one occasion in the past few days, a copy of the Holy Qur'an was taken from a Muslim woman in the mosque and stamped on by a soldier until it was damaged beyond repair. This act, which was captured on film, has sparked off a wave of popular outrage and protests across the occupied West Bank.