On the 53rd anniversary of the arson attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestinian resistance groups called on Sunday for the sacred site to be defended against Israeli violations.
“Arab and Muslim nations should shoulder their historic responsibility towards protecting Al-Aqsa against plots to Judaise it,” said Hamas. “Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa are the core of the conflict with the enemy and the compass for unifying our people and nation. The occupation has no sovereignty or legitimacy over any part of Al-Aqsa Mosque or Jerusalem.”
Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad movement called on Palestinians to continue defending Al-Aqsa Mosque “by all means”. It stressed that “resistance in all forms is the key to defending Jerusalem, which will remain Arab and Islamic.”
Al-Aqsa Mosque was set on fire by an Australian Christian extremist, Denis Michael Rohan, on 21 August 1969. The blaze destroyed several parts of the historic mosque, including a 1,000-year-old wood-and-ivory pulpit dating back to the time of Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi.
It also destroyed the mihrab of Muslim Caliph Omar Bin Al-Khattab, along with large sections of the mosque’s heavily-ornamented interior and gilded wooden dome.
Two days after the attack, Rohan was arrested by the Israeli authorities, who said that he suffered from severe mental illness. He was eventually deported to his native Australia.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third holiest site for all Muslims.