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Israel closes down a Palestinian organisation defending Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage, a Palestinian non-governmental organisation, revealed on Wednesday that Israeli security forces have closed down the Emarat Al-Aqsa organisation in the city of Nazareth, in northern Israel, after raiding its headquarters and confiscating all its properties, Anadolu news agency reported.

In a statement cited by Anadolu, Al-Aqsa Foundation explained that a large force of Israeli intelligence and police officers stormed the headquarters of Emarat Al-Aqsa and ejected all the staff, asking them to wait outside until the end of the raid.

Emarat Al-Aqsa is a non-governmental organisation that seeks to restore the status of Al-Aqsa Mosque to its historical place in the Islamic world by raising awareness about the importance of the Mosque and about the damage and dangers it continues to face. It also seeks to revive the educational process, intensifying the Muslim presence in the mosque during prayers and ensuring that Islamic occasions are being celebrated in it.

The statement described how: "During the raid, all the contents of Emarat Al-Aqsa's offices, from computers to files and documents, were seized and the director of the organisation was handed an order signed by Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon requiring the immediate closure of Emarat Al-Aqsa and a total ban on its activities."

According to the text of the order, the Israeli authorities say the organisation "poses a threat to the security of Israel and has links with Hamas".

The Al-Aqsa Foundation condemned the Israeli ban on Emarat Al-Aqsa's activities and the sudden closure of its offices.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is regularly subjected to incursions carried out by Israeli settlers, who tour the grounds under the armed guard of the Israeli security forces. The settlers often provoke Palestinians, sometimes resulting in the outbreak of clashes between the two sides.

According to Judaism, the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque is where the Temple of Solomon once stood, known as the First Temple and built by the Prophet Solomon.

Palestinians fear that the Israelis plan to divide Al-Aqsa Mosque in the same way that they divided the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. There, the Israeli authorities ordered that the mosque rotate between Muslims and Jews after an Israeli settler shot and killed 29 Muslim worshipers during dawn prayers in 1994.

The Israeli police currently allow settlers to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque by entering through the Mughrabi Gate, which is open twice daily, except on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Israeli security forces recently tightened the restrictions that have been enforced since the beginning of August on women praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Earlier, women were being prevented from entering before the noon prayers, but since last Sunday, the police have prevented women from entering even after the noon prayers, according to an official in the Jordanian Endowments, which has the authority to oversee Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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