Case Study of the unilateral division of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews
A field study prepared by a Palestinian organisation which monitors Israeli human rights and other violations in Jerusalem has concluded that the Israeli occupation authorities are trying to impose a division of access to Al-Aqsa Mosque with implicit Jewish presence daily on three axes. The study was conducted by Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage in cooperation with the Foundation for the Architecture of Al-Aqsa and Sanctities.
The three axes are based on incursions by settlers almost daily around and in Al-Aqsa Mosque, which include the performance of Talmudic rituals; the storming of the mosque by Israeli soldiers in uniform and their extensive "exploratory" tours; and incursions of Israeli intelligence groups and their snooping around the buildings of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Strengthening the Jewish presence
The study said that the Israelis are trying to strengthen the Jewish presence in Al-Aqsa, especially in the morning, by an average of 450 illegal settlers per month as well as 300 intelligence agents and soldiers in uniform, in order to create a "routine" stereotype for the Jewish presence in the Noble Sanctuary. It warned that if unchecked this could lead to a unilateral division of access to the Mosque between Muslims and Jews.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation report added that the need at this moment is for Palestinian Muslims to occupy Al-Aqsa in their thousands around the clock. It reminded Muslims that Jerusalem was the first Qiblah (direction of prayer) and has to be protected.
In a press statement the Foundation described the Israeli policy as "dangerous" and one step on the path towards the Judaisation of the mosque. It rejected outright the presence of even one Israeli settler or soldier anywhere in the Noble Sanctuary.
In terms of statistics, the report said that the number of Jewish intruders at Al-Aqsa Mosque from among the settlers in the first six months of 2012 was 2,722, compared to 2,772 settlers in the first six months of 2011, an average of 450 settlers per month. The number of soldiers in uniform and intelligence agents was 1,953 in the first six months of 2012, an average of 300 per month. Incursions by soldiers in uniform and their exploratory tours began early this year; they were stopped completely after the Aqsa Intifada of 2000.
The periods when most incursions take place have changed from almost exclusively Jewish religious holidays to include additional so-called "Jewish national holidays". The study noted the increase in the number of Jewish public and collective prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque, including an incident when the Israeli flag was raised near the Dome of the Rock Mosque. The intense and growing media coverage of such prayers by the Israeli media is also referred to in the study, as is the number of politicians, members of the Israeli Knesset and leaders of political parties who took part in more than one of the raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque this year.
Al-Aqsa Foundation warns of a plan prepared by Jewish organisations to step up the number of daily Jewish incursions at Al-Aqsa Mosque and the performance of Jewish prayers therein. Several proposals for such activity have been discussed, to include demonstrations and sit-ins to demand a legal right to pray in the mosque. The Israeli courts and police authorities are being petitioned to allow more Jewish prayers, especially during this month.
The Foundation claims that all of the attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque are the results of the reality of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. They will not end, the report concludes, until the occupation ends.