Muslims See Victory at Al-Aqsa
- From: "Muslims Always Victorious" <zimbawi@xxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 22:27:22 +0200
Muslims See Victory at Al-Aqsa
By Mel Frykberg
EAST JERUSALEM, Oct 11, 2009 (IPS) - Clashes between Israeli security forces
and protesting Palestinians have subsided as several hundred Muslims agreed
to evacuate Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque following a deal brokered by the
Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv Saturday.
But the Islamic Movement, whose members sought to take over the mosque, is
at the centre of intense controversy. In Israel demands have risen for the
arrest of Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah.
Israeli police accuse Salah of waging a "religious war" and say he is guilty
of "incitement and sedition".
Through weeks of unrest Salah encouraged Muslims to assemble in and around
Al-Aqsa to "protect it from Jewish Zealots." Busloads of his supporters from
around the country arrived in the disputed city, and together with locals
faced off with soldiers and police.
During the subsequent clashes Israeli soldiers and police arrested hundreds
of Palestinians. Dozens of security forces and protestors were injured. The
violence spread to several refugee camps and towns in the West Bank as
thousands of Arabs joined solidarity demonstrations in Gaza, Syria, Egypt
Muslim anger mounted as hundreds of Israeli extremists tried to enter the
Haram compound, in which Al-Aqsa Mosque is situated, to celebrate the Yom
Kippur and Sukkot Jewish holidays. Some of the extremists want to destroy
the mosque and build a third Jewish Temple on its remains.
This anger was exacerbated by West Bankers and Gazans being denied entry to
Jerusalem to worship at the mosque. East Jerusalem males under 50 were also
denied entrance to the mosque, while women of all ages were permitted to
The stand-off eased following intervention by the Jordanian Ambassador in
Tel Aviv. The Israeli authorities agreed to allow several hundred Muslims
holed up in the mosque to leave, and dropped arrest warrants against them.
The authorities also promised that Muslims would be allowed free access to
Ehab Jallad, coordinator of the Jerusalem Popular Committee for the
Celebration of Jerusalem as the Capital of Arab Culture for 2009, which
works in conjunction with the Islamic Waqf which administers Al-Aqsa mosque,
sees this as a victory.
"This is the first time since Israel's 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem
that Muslims have stayed in the mosque for an entire week and prevented the
Jewish extremists from entering. We are planning to organise groups round
the clock in the future to prevent any further attempts at a takeover,"
Jallad told IPS.
Muslim fears around Al-Aqsa mosque are based on Israeli efforts to Judaise
East Jerusalem in order to keep the city under eternal Israeli sovereignty,
thereby preventing the eastern sector becoming the capital of a future
Palestinian state. Al-Aqsa Mosque is a part of East Jerusalem.
In an interview with IPS shortly before he was arrested and banned from
Jerusalem for 30 days, Sheikh Raed Salah said that Israeli authorities had
earlier informed some of his colleagues that the mosque would be divided.
The Israelis reportedly said that only the mosque itself was considered a
Muslim site but that the other buildings in the compound and the other areas
were public property and would fall under Israeli control.
"This is a red line. We will not allow the Israelis to take over the Haram
compound. If we have to choose between martyrdom and losing the Haram, we
choose the former," Salah told IPS.
Israeli archaeologists have been carrying out extensive digging around the
mosque, with some admitting that the excavations were threatening the homes
of Muslims living nearby.
Secret digging was carried out underneath the mosque in 1996. Clashes then
led to the death of 75 Palestinians and 15 Israeli soldiers.
Raphael Greenberg, professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv university, says the
current Israeli excavations are politically motivated.
"As usual during the Jewish holidays, the Israeli public has been inundated
with reports of 'amazing discoveries' in excavations in Jerusalem," he says.
"Most of the archaeological research in Jerusalem is being driven by
pressure from politically interested groups and individuals with the aim of
'proving' our historical rights in the city or clearing an area for
"Several East Jerusalem neighbourhoods are being targeted for Israeli
settlements to prevent Palestinian neighbourhoods from expanding," Jallad
In August the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha),
reported that 475 Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood were at
risk of forced eviction, while 540 new illegal housing units were being
planned. This figure excludes other areas of East Jerusalem under threat.
The Jerusalem Municipality has limited building permits for Palestinians,
despite East Jerusalem being densely overcrowded, and changed municipal
boundaries to incorporate illegal Jewish settlements and the nearly 200,000
settlers residing in East Jerusalem.
Salah says he will not back down. "I'm not afraid of being arrested again.
They can charge me with whatever they like. Al-Aqsa is a spark that could
ignite the entire Muslim world and bring war if our rights are not
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