Hundreds of demonstrators gathered here in front of the Israeli embassy to protest Israel’s recent blockade of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and perform the Islamic Friday congregational prayer.
Palestinians, Christians and Orthodox Jews were among those who participated in the demonstration organized by the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).
“We are here because we find that all what Israel is doing for decades against the Palestinian people is totally wrong and this step they are taking out escalate its violence to a level where they just encourage conflict and fuel hatred,” Rabbi Dovid Felman, president of Naturei Karta International organisation, or Jews United Against Zionism, told Anadolu Agency.
Felman stressed that oppressing, killing, and stealing is wrong, according to Judaism, in reference to Israel’s actions toward Palestinians.
“We find today, Palestine the worst place for Jews or for Muslims. unfortunately, all of this was caused by the invention of Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel,” he added.
While Muslims performed the prayer in front of the embassy, others held banners that read: “Torah true Jews in Jerusalem and Worldwide condemn the aggression in Al-Aqsa and the occupation of Palestine” and “Judaism rejects Zionism and the state of Israel”.
AMP National Policy Director Dr. Osama Abuirshaid said the Israeli government can deny Palestinians their right to worship freely but its embassy in Washington DC does not have the same right and cannot stifle freedom of religion and expression.
“We will continue to fight against Israel’s injustice in this country until the Palestine and Palestinian people are free,” he added.
Executive Director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihad Awad, said “We are here to tell our elected officials and the Trump administration to behave as a worthy American administration by protecting the freedom of religion at home and abroad.” He also emphasized Israel brutalizes Palestinians with American weapons, money and support.
Kristin Szremski, AMP’s Director of Media and Communication asked demonstrators to contact their congressman and the State Department to pressure on Israel.
“American public opinion is changing. Congress is changing. Israel has become partisan topic in Congress. It used to be bi-partisan,” said Szremski. “It’s now very partisan. It’s only just a matter of time and they know it. That’s why their measures are getting more and more harsh.”
Anger spilled across the West Bank since July 14, when Israel imposed security restrictions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — a site venerated by Muslims and Jews, following the deaths of two Israeli police officers and three Arab Israelis in an attack.
The measures, which included metal detectors, have since been removed.