On the 43rd anniversary of the arson attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque by an Israeli extremist, Al-Quds International Institution has issued a report detailing the increasing number of Israeli assaults against the Noble Sanctuary. Observers believe that are all part of Israel's "Judaisation" programme for the Holy City and Islamic religious sites.
The report, which covers the year to 21 August 2012, shows a clear increase in the scale of Judaisation activities. So much so that the Institution says that the situation needs national, regional and international action to stop Israeli aggression against Al-Aqsa and the city of Jerusalem.
According to the report, the most serious issue is the attempt by Israel to divide Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews. Apparently, a Knesset Member for the National Union, Aryeh Eldad, has submitted a draft law for discussion which would allow Jews to perform Talmudic rituals in the mosque, at which times Muslims will be excluded. "The situation is reminiscent of the division of the Mosque of Ibrahim in Hebron," said the report.
Details have also been revealed in the report about the Israeli judiciary's attempts to stop maintenance works at Al-Aqsa on the pretext of protecting alleged Jewish remains. The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement presented a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on 16 July 2012, the report said, asking for an immediate halt of construction and maintenance works in Al-Aqsa Mosque for this reason. It all adds up, it is claimed, to an attempt to cancel the role of the Islamic Waqf (Religious Endowment) authority in the mosque.
The head of the Temple Mount group, Gershon Salomon, also presented a petition to the Supreme Court in February in which he asked for a permission to perform Talmudic rituals on top of Al-Aqsa Mosque: "The petition was turned down, but the Supreme Court confirmed the right of all Israelis to perform Jewish rituals in the Mosque; that right is currently restricted because of public security concerns."
Substantial excavations by the Israelis have been reported, including the works to develop the so-called "City of David" to the north and west of the Old City of Jerusalem. A notable increase in excavations has been noted in the Silwan neighbourhood.
"Six new sites were opened during the last year," the report said, "four to the west of Al-Aqsa Mosque and two to the north." These bring the total of such excavations in and around Al-Aqsa to 47, all threatening the foundations of the mosque and sanctuary walls.
Physical incursions at the mosque have seen extremist Jewish groups, including senior Israeli officials, protected by Israeli police officers, entering the Noble Sanctuary to perform religious rituals.
Israeli aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque has drawn some international support. During his recent visit to Jerusalem, the Russian president Vladimir Putin recognised the Western Wall as Jewish and called for the reconstructions of the "Temple". Documents from the British Mandate period demonstrate that the ownership of the Western ("Wailing") Wall lies with the Palestinians.
Likewise, the Republican US presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited the Western Wall and said: "In this blessed spot and in this witnessed day, I could know more about the history of Jews and so I feel the same affliction that they feel for the destruction of the Temple."
The report claims that American and Russian officials denied knowing that the Western Wall is a part of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Islamic and Arabic mass media is criticized for not giving Jewish assaults on Al-Aqsa coverage proportional to the seriousness of the threats to the mosque. The ninth Islamic conference for information ministers held in the Republic of Gabon on February 2012 agreed that the last Friday of each Ramadan should be dedicated in the Islamic and Arabic media with distinctive coverage about Jerusalem. However, the response to that agreement was minimal this year. Nevertheless, media coverage is important to expose Israeli assaults to the world.
Similarly, the issue of Al-Aqsa Mosque does not receive enough popular support despite the Arab Spring which proved that Arabs are able to change the status quo when the will is there. "Arabs and Muslims have taken the same [inactive] stance since 1967," the report bemoans. "That has encouraged the Israelis in their aggression against the Mosque."
Noting that the Palestinian Authority is no longer capable of standing up to Israeli aggression against the Mosque, the report described the PA's policy based on negotiations as "inactive" in such a fierce environment. "[The PA] continues with its policy of security cooperation with the Israelis. This is evidence of the lack of any intention to thwart Israel's war against Al-Aqsa." The PA, added the report, has its hands tied through the Oslo agreement when it conceded its right for any existence in Jerusalem. "The only way to stop Israeli attacks on the mosque is through resistance," the Al-Quds Institution claims.
The report called on the Jordanian government to take seriously its role in the protection of Al-Aqsa Mosque, given that the Jordanian Waqf authorities have responsibility for all religious sites in Jerusalem. The kingdom should use its peace treaty with Israel as a negotiating tool, the report suggests.
With regards to Palestinian reconciliation, the report calls upon the factions to tackle the common enemy for the sake of Al-Aqsa: "It is not reasonable to call for others to protect the Mosque while Palestinians themselves are involved in internal disputes."