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Jordan condemns Aqsa closure as ‘attack on religious freedoms’

By JT - Mar 13,2019 - Last updated at Mar 13,2019

AMMAN — Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Abdul Nasser Abul Bassal on Wednesday said that Israel’s closure of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif is unacceptable and a blatant attack on religious freedoms.

The minister added that the Israeli occupation seeks to inflame religious conflict in the region through such measures.

Unrest at the highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site led Israeli authorities to shut off access to it on Tuesday after several weeks of tension at the location.

Israeli forces said they evacuated Al Aqsa Mosque complex, after a Molotov cocktail damaged a police post, AFP news agency reported.

Videos spread online of scuffles between police and Palestinians before the site was cleared, according to AFP.

More than 10 people were arrested, Israel said, including two minors, allegedly linked to the firebomb attack, who will be brought to a court for a remand hearing on Wednesday, AFP added.

In a press statement, carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Abul Bassal said that the Israeli occupation forces fabricated the events to drive out the worshippers from Al Aqsa Mosque, adding that the Israeli occupation forces closed Al Aqsa Mosque’s gates and assaulted its employees and other unarmed women and men.

He pointed out that the Jordan holds the Israeli government, as the occupying power, fully responsible for the events that took place at Al Aqsa Mosque.

He noted that the events that took place at the holy site are a serious violation to all international conventions, laws and norms, stressing the inviolability and sanctity of Al Aqsa of all Muslims.

He added that the attack targets all Muslims, and that any attack on any part of Al Aqsa Mosque or its employees is an assault on the entire Islamic nation, stressing that such provocative acts unite all Muslims to protect Al Aqsa Mosque.

The ministry is constantly and carefully following up on the ongoing events at Al Aqsa Mosque, Abul Bassal said.

Residents said Israeli forces were also restricting Palestinian access to Jerusalem’s Old City, where the site is located, according to AFP.

Worshippers later prayed outside the locked gates of the site in protest.

Recent weeks have seen scuffles over a side building at the site known as the Bab Al Rahmah (Gate of Mercy).

Palestinian worshippers have been entering the site despite an Israeli order that it should stay closed.

Wasfi Kilani, executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Reconstruction of Al Aqsa and the Dome of Rock, has said that the issue of the Bab Al Rahmah “revealed the intentions of the extremist Jewish organisations and the scheming of the Israeli occupation forces to judaise Jerusalem and its holy sites”. 

He also pointed out that the Gate of Mercy’s closure since 2003 was under a fabricated pretext, the consequences of which ended 15 years ago, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Speaking on Jordan TV’s programme “Eye on Jerusalem”, Kilani added that Jordan, represented by the Foreign Ministry and the Jerusalem Awqaf Department, had sent more than 12 letters through international organisations and diplomatic and political channels inquiring about the reasons behind the Gate of Mercy’s closure and calling for ending it. 

Kilani stressed that Jordan, which is the custodian of Jerusalem’s holy sites, is sticking to its principles towards what has been entrusted to it, despite the difficult choices faced by Jordan, Jerusalemites and the Awqaf Department, whose employees and guards face an unprecedented and fierce campaign of expulsion for various periods, according to Petra.







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