Hamas calls for new plan to protect Al-Aqsa mosque
The site of Al-Aqsa is significant to both Muslims and Jews. (AFP/File)
Palestinian faction Hamas on Saturday called for devising an Arab-Palestinian strategy for the protection of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israeli authorities are trying to impose a new fait accompli by allowing Israeli settlers to repeatedly force their way into Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, Hamas said in a statement.
Israel is trying to exploit the Arab world's preoccupation with its domestic problems to divide up Al-Aqsa Mosque complex and continue with its "Judaization," Hamas said.
The Palestinian faction went on to reiterate that Al-Aqsa Mosque was at the heart of the conflict between the Arabs and Israel and that the responsibility of defending it fell on the shoulders of Palestinian resistance factions.
In a Saturday report by Himma News – a media group focused on Jerusalem news and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular – said that some 1,300 Israeli settlers have barged into Al-Aqsa Mosque complex throughout April.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War.
It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
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