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Sheikh: Israel tightening grip on Al-Aqsa Mosque
Published Monday 25/03/2013 (updated) 31/03/2013 16:05
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JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The director of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday warned that Israel is tightening restrictions on the Muslim holy site in Jerusalem.

Sheikh Najih Bkeirat told Ma'an that Israeli forces seized the keys to the Moroccan Gate to allow extremist Jewish settlers access the compound.

Israel has imposed strict restrictions on the entry of worshipers to the mosque and delivered military orders banning several citizens, clerics and dignitaries from Al-Aqsa, Bkeirat said.

Bkeirat was banned from Al-Aqsa Mosque in October.

"Thirty-five days after I was appointed director of al-Aqsa Mosque, I was banned from the mosque despite the fact that the appointment was made by a Jordanian ministry. (The Israelis) failed to prevent the decision so they denied me access to the mosque."

Israeli authorities claimed Bkeirat's presence posed a threat to Israeli security and said secret reports proved he impeded the work of Israeli police in the compound, the sheikh said.

The ban was renewed for six months on March 3.

"I received a six-month ban from March 3 to Sept. 3 saying that I must be at least 20 meters away from Al-Aqsa Mosque. A map was attached showing the borders I am not allowed to access," the sheikh said.

"Their message is that if we can ban the director, we can ban any other employee or activist," Bkeirat said, noting that 300 people work in al-Aqsa Mosque.

Since the Israelis do not enjoy full control of the mosque, added Bkeirat, they want to deprive it from a "strong administration which will implement Arab and Islamic policies."

Since 2004, 217 Palestinians have been deported from Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Bkeirat. He highlighted that 65 students and teachers were deported in one day and 35 others were deported on another day.

Sheikh Bkeirat has been working for the Palestinian ministry of endowment since 1977.

He has been banned from Al-Aqsa Mosque seven times since 2003, for various lengths of time. Between 2000 and 2004 he was not allowed to travel abroad and Israel prohibited him from speaking to the media throughout 2012, Bkeirat says.

The sheikh says he will challenge the latest ban.

"I will challenge the Israeli decision, and bear the consequences as I can’t see Al-Aqsa Mosque and stand hand-cuffed."
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1 ) Mel1 / USA
26/03/2013 01:52
Be VERY careful Israel! Restrain your FANATICS!As a white anglo-Saxon US,secular-but SPIRITUAL-Christian,&PLURALIST,I'd be outraged too,if Zionists attacked,insulted any Mosque.SO TOO,would I(like MANY people)be blazing angry if racists did ANYTHING to offend similarly beautiful,HISTORICAL Jewish houses of God&faith!I don't have to be Muslim,to defend a Mosque from ZIONISTS,or a Jew to defend a Synagogue from Nazis,as we did in WW2.WISE UP Israel,you're ALREADY lacking in real GLOBAL ALLIES!!

2 ) ian / australia
26/03/2013 09:18
The Aqsa is the key to everything. Though many saw Obama as grovelling before Zion last week he also presented a strong EQUAL vision of two states, viable and secure, side by side. The question is WHERE they are. Where one ends and the other begins. The Palestinians should run with this. Concentrate on the Dome of the Rock, their most recognizable symbol (though people in the West have no idea what they're looking at or WHERE it is and think vaguely it must be the "Temple"). But THAT

3 ) ian / australia
26/03/2013 09:19
(contd.) could be the slogan: WHERE IS THE GOLDEN DOME? ISRAEL OR PALESTINE? This way Israel can be forced to say, "WE WANT IT", "WE WANT IT ALL!" though they have no rational claim to it! The ancient shrine is so CLEARLY Islamic, the greed, verging on insanity of Israel can be widely exposed! Abbas should build an international campaign around Jerusalem's most recognizable structure, and return to "negotiations", farcical, futile negotiations, ASAP, to launch and publicise it. ASAP. Or sooner.

4 ) Keenan / Eire
26/03/2013 17:06
Israelis want to pull down this mosque, I see it on comments online all the time. They have no respect, can't do it obviously so do it insidiously (slimy, despicable, dishonourable). Don't allow that, take to UN & ICC instead!!

5 ) Meera Mungal / Canada
01/04/2013 13:17
Isreal seem to be getting more and more outrageous in the decisions they are making. Hopefully the world is watching. How can they genuinely say they want a two state solution when they are constantly restricting the Palestinians movement and keep stealing more and more land. If it wasn't such a serious matter, it would be laughable!

6 ) Samantha / Australia
03/04/2013 01:53
To Ian, just the fact that the dome is build ontop of the Jewish temple undermines your whole argument that the jews have no rational claim to it. You sound like a smart guy but you post so many stupid things it really is too bad...

7 ) ian / australia
03/04/2013 23:32
#6 "...just the fact that the dome is build ontop of the Jewish temple undermines your whole argument that the jews have no rational claim to it." No it doesn't. There's a Roman temple under Notre Dame in Paris and another one under the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Can modern-day Italy claim them as sovereign Italian soil because of their connection to ancient Rome? Of course not. They can point out that Rome was once a vast empire but that doesn't constitute a legal right to its conquests now.

8 ) ian / australia
03/04/2013 23:38
(contd.) (That's what I mean by a rational claim.) The Palestinian claim isn't based on who was there in the Bronze Age (though their ancestors most likely were, worshipping Jehovah, El, Baal, Tzedek and other Canaanite gods). It's based on being there NOW. On it being their home. (Not some place they invaded AFTER Nuremberg had declared invasion a crime). It's based their 20th century rights, outlined in Nuremberg, UDHR, Geneva and countless ICJ/UN resolutions to self determination

9 ) ian / australia
03/04/2013 23:39
(contd.) in their own land.
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