South African Muslim leaders and civil rights groups have condemned Israel's restriction on Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest site.
Moulana Ebrahim Bham, secretary-general of the Council of Muslim theologians (Jamiatul Ulama) told Anadolu Agency today that the restrictions were a collective punishment on Palestinians and a blatant disregard for internationally recognised conventions.
Shakir Baker, operations manager of the Al-Quds Foundation, told Anadolu Agency,
We have appealed to Imams across the country to concentrate their sermons this Friday on what is happening in Al-Aqsa and rally solidarity for fellow Muslims in Palestine
Baker, whose organisation works to safeguard the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) by preserving its Arab identity and sacred Islamic and Christian sites, said, "We have called on Muslims worldwide to fast every Thursday until Al-Aqsa is liberated."
Israeli authorities closed down the Al-Aqsa compound and cancelled weekly Friday prayers for the first time in nearly five decades, following a shootout last week which left three Palestinians and two Israeli policemen dead near holy site in East Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers wounded nine Palestinians and arrested four others during protests against the closures.