Cleric says Israel wants to open Aqsa courtyard to Jews
Published Tuesday 31/07/2012 (updated) 01/08/2012 16:03
Bulldozers carry out work on a pathway next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque
in the Old City of Jerusalem (MaanImages/Magnus Johansson, File)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- The deputy leader of the Islamic movement in Israel, Sheikh Kamal al-Khateib, said Tuesday that the Israeli municipal council of Jerusalem planned to transform the yards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound into public parks and gardens, to make them accessible for the Jews to visit at any time.
Speaking to reporters, Al-Khateib said that the process of 'Judaising' Jerusalem had been accelerated since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. “The occupation is working to efface the Palestinian features in the holy city through unprecedented procedures they carried out this month,” he added.
“For the first time, the occupation has allowed settlers and extremists to access Al-Aqsa compound during Ramadan paying no attention to the feelings of the Muslim worshipers there,” he said. “Meanwhile, the municipality which represents the occupation approved a decision to consider the yards in Al-Aqsa compound public parks which anybody can access.”
In mid-July Palestinian officials denounced Yehuda Weinstein, the Israeli attorney general, after he claimed that the Al-Aqsa area was part of Israel and referred to the mosque's courtyards as public space.
Weinstein was quoted on Israeli news sites as saying the area was under Israeli jurisdiction for matters such as planning and building, and said the courtyard was for public use.
In his remarks Tuesday, Al-Khateib said soldiers detained the imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday while he was praying. “Israeli troops stormed the mosque and prevented worshipers from completing their prayer,” he said.
On Thursday a mosque guard told Ma'an that 20 rightists entered the grounds of the holy site.