The Israeli occupation authorities have warned that they will fine Palestinians who pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem if gatherings of more than 10 people are spotted there, the Palestinian Information Centre reported on Wednesday. Israeli police stationed at the gates of Al-Aqsa have collected the identity documents of Muslims in order to put pressure on them.
Local sources report that the move is allegedly part of the Israeli government's measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, the same sources point out that if this really is the case, then the authorities would also stop large groups of illegal settlers from taking part in disruptive incursions into the mosque under police protection.
Moreover, the Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, has called on worshippers to follow the guidance of the World Health Organisation in relation to prayer gatherings inside the Noble Sanctuary. He pointed out that the Israeli occupation authorities are clearly planning to exploit the coronavirus issue in order to cut the Palestinian presence within Al-Aqsa to make it easy for their plans to Judaise the Islamic site.
At the same time, Al-Kiswani called for the closure of Al-Magharbeh Gate, which is used by the Israeli Jewish settlers when they desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In conclusion, the Sheikh pointed out that the Awqaf Department has been deep cleaning all parts of the mosque compound since the outbreak of the coronavirus and has closed all the roofed prayer areas inside the holy site as a countermeasure against the pandemic.