On the fiftieth anniversary of the infamous act of arson at Al-Aqsa Mosque, when the flames of hatred were ignited and engulfed the Noble Sanctuary, the fire is still burning not only around the mosque, but also in the streets and alleyways of Jerusalem.
Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem are living through very dangerous times, arguably the most dangerous in their history. The Zionist entity is working hard to eliminate the nature and features of the city through a comprehensive programme of Judaisation. The mentality responsible for this disregards the sacred connection that Muslims and Christians have with the city and works to erase its Arab, Muslim and Christian landmarks.
The Israeli occupation is trying to Judaise the land and city stone by stone; to displace their people by besieging them economically and socially, making them face all kinds of humiliation, harassment and provocation. This includes the demolition of their homes, seizing their property, revoking their residency permits, exiling leaders and elites from Jerusalem, shutting down community organisations, and building ever more illegal settlements and the Apartheid Wall. They have also cracked down on people performing acts of worship and attacked sacred buildings and places.
Neither the living nor the dead have been spared from this campaign. Not even the trees and rocks are spared this daily oppression, abuse and torture of the Jerusalemites.
When remembering the arson attack on Al-Aqsa, the consequences of which are still with us, we remember that this criminal act provoked several reactions in the Arab, Muslim and international arenas, most notably the creation of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, now known as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 271, which is binding on UN member states. The resolution condemned the "execrable act of desecration and profanation of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, calls upon Israel scrupulously to observe the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and international law governing military occupation and to refrain from causing any hindrance to the discharge of the established functions of the Supreme Moslem Council of Jerusalem, including any co-operation that Council may desire from countries with predominantly Moslem population and from Moslem communities in relation to its plans for the maintenance and repair of the Islamic Holy Places in Jerusalem."
The Israeli occupation continues to use all means possible to attack Al-Aqsa Mosque by means of excavations and tunnels intended to undermine the foundations of the buildings and structure. There are also daily intrusions by armed settlers; attempts to impose spatial and temporal divisions within Al-Aqsa; and the adoption of many laws and regulations by the Israelis to damage the Noble Sanctuary. This includes the efforts to take it under the umbrella of Israel's Ministry of Religious Services, as well as the hateful schemes by the so-called temple groups, which work day and night to demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque and build a temple on its ruins.
When considering all of this and thinking about what Al-Aqsa Mosque means to the Muslim Ummah, there are some serious questions to be asked. Are there really Arab and Muslim nations, for example? Do they know for certain and see with their own eyes that Al-Aqsa Mosque is being desecrated? Are the Arabs and Muslims able to sleep while the free people of Jerusalem are beaten by Israeli soldiers and women's headscarves are pulled off? Do the nation's leaders know that Israeli prisons are filled with Jerusalemite children and young girls? Has the OIC managed to stop the acts of vandalism and desecration carried out against Al-Aqsa over the past 50 years, since the organisation's founding? The bottom line is simple: are there Arab, Muslim and Palestinian plans in place to achieve victory for Jerusalem and the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa?
I could go on and on in describing the situation in Jerusalem and the threats to its Islamic and Christian sanctities, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque. For the situation to be normal, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque must be liberated and returned to the Arab and Muslim fold, under which it thrived for centuries. Until then, all Arab and Muslim leaders and citizens are, at the very least, required to stand in solidarity with Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and reinforce the steadfastness of our people there. Jerusalem is unlike any other city and Al-Aqsa is unlike any other mosque. They are at the centre of a radiance that never dies, but is bursting with history, religion and civilisation; giving up on either would be to concede a major part of all three. Moreover, it would be a crime against our past, present and future.
This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 23 August 2019
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.