Palestinian officials condemn rightist Israeli visits to Al-Aqsa
Published Thursday 16/01/2014 (updated) 18/01/2014 22:13
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A PLO Executive Committee member spoke out against visits by rightist Israeli Jewish groups to the Al-Aqsa compound on Thursday.
Ahmad Qurie warned of "catastrophic" consequences if the Jewish groups continued to visit Al-Aqsa, saying the visits violated international law.
Qurie said Israeli police arrested Palestinian youths who were attempting to stop the groups from entering the compound. He criticized the police for making such arrests.
Earlier, the director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque told Ma'an that the visits were a "provocative and dangerous intrusion by extremists."
Azzam al-Khatib said extremist lawyer Yehuda Glick, who chairs the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, entered the mosque compound through the Moroccan Gate and later "climbed to the roof of the Dome of the Rock and verbally assaulted the guards."
Also Saturday, Palestinian security spokesman Adnan al-Dumieri told Ma'an that Israeli rightists "ascending to the roof of the Dome of the Rock" was a provocative action that would have a negative impact on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
But Israeli police spokesman Rosenfeld said he was unfamiliar with the roof-climbing incident.
He confirmed that there were "normal visits" to the Al-Aqsa compound, but said no arrests were made.
Due to the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa mosque, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the compound to restrict the area for Muslim prayers.
Israeli forces, however, regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, often leading to tension with Palestinians.
The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.
It is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
According to mainstream Jewish religious leaders, Jews are forbidden from entering for fear they would profane the "Holy of Holies," or the inner sanctum of the Second Temple.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.