President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, Mehmet Gormez, has strongly condemned Israel’s actions on Sunday in occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Sunday when Israeli security forces forced their way into the flashpoint mosque complex and used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse Muslim worshippers.
“The occupiers [i.e., the Israelis] should show some restraint before this issue reaches the point of no return,” Gormez said.
Gormez went on to warn that closing the mosque to Muslim worshippers and allowing extremist Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces into the area constituted a “dangerous step” that was aimed at “partitioning” the iconic mosque complex.
Sunday’s incursions by Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces, Gormez added, threatened Al-Aqsawith fresh attempts to “forcibly” divide the mosque for worship on a space and time based manner.
Earlier Sunday, scores of extremist Jewish settlers – led by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and backed by dozens of Israeli police and soldiers – also forced their way into the mosque compound.
According to Gormez, such assaults on the sanctity of Al-Aqsa – which have become increasingly frequent in recent months – “constitute an affront to all Muslims and all people of conscience”.
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.
Some extremist Jewish groups have called for the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that a Jewish temple might be built in its place.