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Netanyahu Calls for Closing Gate of Mercy in Al-Aqsa Mosque Again

Netanyahu Calls for Closing Gate of Mercy in Al-Aqsa Mosque Again

Wednesday, 27 February, 2019 - 13:15
Palestinians demonstrate in Hebron (AFP)
Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat
Israeli Prime Minister has ordered police taskforces present at Al-Aqsa Mosque to shut down the eastern Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, after a group of Palestinians broke into the worship place at the end of last week.

Thousands of Palestinian protesters on Friday burst into a section of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa that has been closed by Israeli court order for over 15 years.

Subsequently, Netanyahu asked Jordan to work on calming the situation and upholding the status quo.

Netanyahu claimed that the mob was supportive of and mobilized by Hamas, despite Israeli authorities in Jerusalem having since then raided the West Bank and arresting over a 100 leaders.

On the other hand, head of the Waqf, the Islamic custodian of the Temple Mount, Sheikh Abdel-Azeem Salhab, has been released after being arrested Sunday over a contested building at the compound in recent days.

Jordan's Islamic Affairs and Holy Places Minister Abdel Naser Abu Elbasal vehemently condemned Salhab's arrest, calling it a "serious escalation." He said Israel is "playing with fire," urging authorities to release the two officials and refrain from arresting others, which he said compromises Jordan's position as custodian of Jerusalem's holy sites.

The head of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel, former Member of Knesset Mohammad Barakeh, together with representatives of the Balad and Ra'am parties, visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque and met with Waqf leaders.

Police closed off the site, which is inside the Golden Gate, in 2003, saying that the Islamic heritage association that operated there had been associated with Hamas. The closure order has been renewed annually since then, and a court in 2017 approved the continued closure.

Palestinians fear that the Israeli measures will be a prelude to drawing a divide within Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to make a place for Jewish settlers to worship, similar to the separation in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, which was divided between Muslims and settlers.

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