The Al-Aqsa mosque has become a flashpoint once more after hundreds of Palestinians were arrested on Friday with most injured including three Israeli policemen. A revered site for Muslims, Jews and Christians the site saw unprecedented violence when Palestinian actvists and Hamas terrorists allegedly entered the compound waving Palestinian Authority flags threw stones and set off fireworks after prayer around early morning.
The security officials told Israeli news agency Haaretz that the arrests were made to enable prayers to occur at noon. The officials told the news agency that the situation in Al Aqsa is currently under control.
The report by Haaretz also pointed out that the altercation also points to the breaching of status quo on the Temple Mount. Earlier it was decided Jews will have access to the Temple Mount but prayers shall be held only at the Western Wall. However, an editorial by the Haaretz pointed out that for the past two years some Jews under police protection hold prayers in a quorum at Temple Mount.
The editorial also pointed out that the number of Jews coming to Temple Mount have increased. This is in violation of the agreement between the Israeli government and the Waqf (the Muslim religious authority), the Palestinian Authority and the Jordanian government. The editorial argues that to exercise religious autonomy of Jews ‘ in the only place where Muslims have some autonomy, a place that is both a religious and a national symbol for the Palestinians, constitutes needless provocation’.
Footage from the Al Aqsa mosque showed youths wearing black hooded jackets and masks pelting stones at Israeli security forces and the police clamping down on the miscreants. Six Palestinians remain in intensive care while several others receive treatment for their injuries.
The fight erupted when thousands of Palestinian youth chose to barricade themselves inside the Al Aqsa compound in protest to calls by religious Jewish groups to enter the compound on Friday to perform sacrifice on Passover – a Jewish festival which celebrates liberation of Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
The United Arab List, the Islamic party in the coalition government, condemned police action and its leader Mansour Abbas said that when it comes to Al-Aqsa there are ‘no political considerations’.
(with inputs from Haaretz)