Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel bars Palestinian government minister from Al-Aqsa

November 5, 2014 at 11:51 am

Israeli police on Wednesday barred Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian minister of Jerusalem affairs, from entering the city’s flashpoint Al-Asqa Mosque complex.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency by phone, al-Husseini said he had been slightly injured when Israeli forces assaulted him and a group of other Palestinian Muslim worshippers gathered at the northern entrance of the complex.

As al-Husseini spoke, gunfire and stun grenades could be heard in the background.

Israeli officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli forces barred Hanin Zoabi and Ibrahim Sarsur, two Arab-Israeli Knesset members, as well as Kamal al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, from entering the mosque complex.

The move came after Israel barred Muslim worshippers from entering the site while granting entry to extremist Jewish settlers.

Earlier in the day, a group of Jewish settlers forced their way into the mosque compound after Israeli police stormed the holy site and began firing on Muslim worshippers, a Palestinian guard at the holy site said.

The violence comes as several extremist Jewish groups called on followers to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday to mark the passage of one week since extremist rabbi Yehuda Glick was shot and injured by a Palestinian man in Jerusalem.

Tension has been running high in occupied East Jerusalem since Israel closed Al-Aqsa on Thursday following the attack on Glick.

Israeli authorities reopened the mosque compound on Friday following a day of violent clashes with Palestinian protesters, but barred male Muslim worshippers under 50 years old from entering the site.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, warned that closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound constituted a “declaration of war” on the Palestinian people and their sacred places.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada,” a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.