Israel shuts down Al Aqsa Mosque after shooting

Published October 30th, 2014 - 07:27 GMT
Al Bawaba
Al Bawaba

Israeli authorities on Thursday shut the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem following the shooting of a far-right Jewish rabbi, for the first time since 1967.

"Israeli authorities shut the Al Aqsa Mosque entirely since dawn," Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Jordan-run Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Anadolu Agency.

He said that the holy site has never been shut since 1967, when Israel occupied East Jerusalem.

"We are holding contacts to reopen the mosque to Muslim worshippers," al-Khatib said.

The Israeli closure of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound came shortly after Jewish rabbi Yehuda Glick was seriously injured in a drive-by shooting in Jerusalem late Wednesday.

Glick is notorious for leading groups of Jews to force their way into the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem.

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 prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy 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 the site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada" – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

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