Ikrimah Sabri, the Grand mufti of Jerusalem, described Tuesday’s decision by Israeli police not to allow Jews into the Al Aqsa mosque area as "insufficient" while also maintaining his skepticism over the situation. Sabri expressed his fears that the Israeli government may use the recent terror threats by Jewish fundamentalists as an excuse to overpower security in the area and hence the Al Aqsa mosque itself.
Israeli police decided not to allow Jews into the Al Aqsa mosque area - Islam’s third holiest site - after Jewish extremists threatened to carry out terror attacks against it. The decision was intended to ban members of the Temple Mount Faithful group, which requested permission to conduct a ceremony at the al Aqsa mosque compound to mark the Jewish Tisha B'Av religious day.
Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month ‘Av’, is the widely recognized day of the destruction of both the first and second Temples. The day of mourning began at sunset Monday and will end at sunset Tuesday.
The Israeli decision was made following Minister of Public Security Tzachi Hanegbi’s warnings about the possibility of attacks by Jewish radicals, using a booby-trapped airplane. According to the minister, the purpose of their plan was to undermine the Israeli PM's Gaza pullout plan.
Sabri told Al Bawaba that Israel’s decision not to allow Jews into the mosque was made “for their (Jewish trespassers) own protection and not for that of the mosque”.
"This however doesn’t mean that Jewish claims over the area of the mosque have stopped…they (the Jews) claim that Muslims had occupied the Temple Mount and built their mosque on its ruins. What we fear most is that now the Israeli police will use these threats as an excuse to take over the mosque," explained Sabri.
"We have been pleading to all Islamic institutions and countries to help us protect the mosque…only very weak responses have been received so far," added Sabri.
Sabri also believes that any attack against the mosque could only be done in coordination with the Israeli government.
"Do you think anyone can fly a plane over Jerusalem without being detected by Israeli radars? Can anyone possess a large amount of explosives without being busted by Israeli security? That’s why we hold Israel responsible for any attack against Al-Aqsa Mosque," Sabri concluded.
For his part, Arab Knesset member Azmi Beshara asserted that the threats of an attack against the Al Aqsa mosque are true and do indeed exist.
"There are many Jewish extremists who believe wrongly that Israel's sovereign and supreme power will not be regained until the coming of Christ…therefore Jews have to rebuild the Temple which of course will be built on the ruins of the Al Aqsa Mosque,” said Beshara.
Beshara added that attempts to attack the mosque have not stopped since 1948 and held the Israeli government responsible for not taking enough procedures to prevent such attempts.
"I have a feeling that the entire world realizes the seriousness of the consequences of an attack against the Al Aqsa mosque, yet there is an obvious negligence on the part of law enforcement officials in Israel to do anything to prevent it," said Beshara.
Beshara does not disregard the possibility that Israel may use these threats to take over Al Aqsa Mosque and the surrounding area; however he did express his relief that Palestinians are aware of these attempts.
Azmi Beshara concluded by saying that Israel will be held responsible should anything happen to the Al Aqsa mosque. “We don’t want Israel to take over the holy mosque and the surrounding area, but after all it is Israel's responsibility as a state to protect it." (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )