A group of Jewish settlers protected by Israeli security forces have entered the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Witnesses said that the extremists walked around in the Noble Sanctuary despite the presence of a large number of Palestinian worshippers. The settlers provoked the Palestinians, who have been staying in Al-Aqsa since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan fearing "attempts to defile the Mosque and disrupt Muslim activities," local sources said. They added that this action came after a group of 20 Israeli officers carried out what has been described as a reconnaissance visit last Thursday.
It is just two weeks since Israel's Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, said that Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem is part of Israeli territory and, as such, is under Israeli jurisdiction.
The representative of the Palestinians stationed in Al-Aqsa, Yosouf Mokheimer, denounced the Israeli attempts to provoke Muslim worshippers during the month of Ramadan. He pointed out that the whole Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa is a part of occupied East Jerusalem in Palestine, as well as the third holiest place for all Muslims around the world.
The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the settlers' "racist acts" and called on the international community and Arab and Islamic officials to take their responsibility towards Jerusalem seriously. A ministry statement said that all who recognise international law and conventions must carry out their duty to protect occupied Jerusalem.
Mr Mokheimer criticised the US position on the issue: "I do not understand why the Americans condemn human rights violations elsewhere but keep quiet about Israel's deliberate abuses against the Palestinians."