JERUSALEM, March 15, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli police Sunday assaulted a 10-year-old girl who shouted at Jewish settlers entered al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City with the purpose of performing religious prayers, according to local sources.
The Islamic Waqf Department told WAFA correspondent that police physically assaulted and beat up the child, who along with other worshipers chanted religious slogans against a group of Jewish fanatics who entered the Mosque to perform religious rituals with the knowledge that prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque would break the status quo agreed by the Israeli government.
Another man, who intervened in defense of the girl, was also beaten up by the Israeli police.
Settlers’ provocative visits to the holy site have given rise to mass protests in the holy city in recent months, during which hundreds of Palestinians were apprehended by Israeli police.
Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place for Muslims, has since 1967 been the center of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. While it is widely known as Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jews refer to the site as the “Temple Mount” and believe it was the site of two Jewish temples destroyed in ancient times.
Despite the fact that the site is the location of al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, two of the most holy destinations for Muslims, hundreds of Jewish extremists regularly attempt to legalize prayer at the compound, a move that will “inevitably” trigger Palestinians, said Israeli police.
Israeli media reported that though the Supreme Court upholds Jews’ “theoretical” right to pray at the compound, it gives the security services the green light to ban Jews from performing rituals should such action result in potential unrest.
Realizing the sensitivity of the site, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to maintain the status quo and that “Israel’s policy towards a ban on Jewish prayer… would not change”, a statement which came after Housing Minister Uri Ariel suggested that the Al-Aqsa Mosque could be replaced by a Jewish temple.”
Despite of the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and demolishing of Palestinian-owned homes, Israeli officials remain cautious when dealing with Al-Aqsa Mosque issue as they believe changing the status quo would lead to a third Palestinian intifada (uprising).
The site has been at the heart of unrest in recent months as Palestinian protester took to the streets over frequent and increasing Jewish visitors to the holy compound. Palestinians worry that if Jewish visitors were allowed to pray in the holy al-Aqsa Mosque, it would eventually lead to a permanent change which will result in full Israeli control and ban on Muslims’ prayer.
Such fears are not groundless; Palestinians claim that their fear stems from ongoing Israeli policy which prevents Palestinians living in the West Bank from obtaining permits to enter Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque and many restrictions on Jerusalemites’ entrance to the holy Compound, including holding their identity cards until they leave the Mosque.
According to the Islamic Institute of Waqf and Heritage, in the first week of March around 200 settlers broke into Al-Aqsa compound with a total of 73 settlers entering the site on Wednesday.
The institute renewed calls on Palestinians from the sharp increase in settlers’ visits saying that it requires a serious action by all Arabs and Muslims, before it is too late.