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Israel bans Fatah official from Al-Aqsa for 10th time

Palestinian Muslims perform the last Friday Prayer in Muslims' holy fasting month of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on June 08, 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf / Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian Muslims perform at Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on 8 June 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf / Anadolu Agency]

Israel yesterday banned a Fatah official from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque for the tenth time after he attempted to confront extremist Israelis storming the compound.

Deputy Secretary of Fatah Shadi Mutawar “was summoned to the Israeli police ten days ago, where he received an order banning him from entering the mosque for seven days,” WAFA reported. Mutawar was then re-summoned yesterday and received an order prohibiting him from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for six months.

Deputy Secretary of Fatah Shadi Mutawar

WAFA added that: “The Deputy General [Mutawar] noted that he had been banned from entering the mosque nine times in the past and that this was the fourth time he was banned from the Mosque for six consecutive months.”

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The alleged reason for the ban was that Mutawar tried to confront extremist Israelis storming the Al-Aqsa compound. Such incursions occur frequently. Yesterday dozens of Israelis, including Israeli Knesset member Shuli Mualem of the Jewish Home party, stormed the compound for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. According to head of the Public Relations and Media Department at the Islamic Endowment Firas Al-Dibs, the extremists entered Al-Aqsa via Al-Mughrabi Gate under heavy protection by Israeli occupation forces.

Many of those Israelis who stormed the compound yesterday performed religious prayers at the site, an action which is in contravention of the status quo agreement. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as custodian of the Al-Aqsa compound, regularly condemns such Israeli violations of the status quo. Director of Public Relations and Information at the Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs, Sawsan Al-Keilani, told MEMO in July that a number of Jordanian MPs, civil institutions and unions have denounced such Israeli provocations, with some even calling for “the cancellation of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, the closure of the Israeli Embassy in Amman and the cancellation of the gas agreement with the Israeli authorities.”

Israel has also sought ways to circumvent the status quo agreement. In April, an Israeli court ruled that Jews storming Al-Aqsa can chant patriotic slogans such as “Am Yisrael chai” (the people of Israel live) as this does not count as religious prayers. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled in favour of right-wing Jewish activist Itamar Ben Gvir, who was detained for several hours in 2015 for chanting such slogans. In March, the same court ruled that Jews can perform prayers at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque, adding that it would be “the best proof of the Israeli control of the area.”

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and is situated in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Old City has been under Israeli occupation since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights during the Six Day War. Jews call the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Temple Mount, believing it was historically the site of the Jewish Temple.

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