After a day of riots and violence in Jerusalem over Israeli renovations near the Temple Mount, leaders of the Islamic Movement summoned its followers to Jerusalem to continue protesting until the construction is called off.
Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, addressed a crowd of thousands in Nazareth Friday evening, saying, “Know that the Israeli establishment, which wants to conquer al-Aqsa, has already started to destroy part of the mosque.”
Israel claimed the construction work at the Mugrabi Gate near the Muslim holy site was aimed at shoring up a rickety bridge.
“A few days ago (Israel) started to destroy important and holy elements to the Muslim world, from the era of Salah a-Din,” Salah charged.
Shortly after Jerusalem police managed to contain the riots Friday afternoon by storming the Temple Mount, some 5,000 protestors marched in Nazareth demanding the construction be stopped.
The demonstrators waved signs that declared “Israel has started a world war,” and waved PLO and Islamic Movement flags.
Sheikh Ra'ad Salah with protestors (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Salah, the central orator at the rally, threatened the Israeli government: “You are playing with fire, and whoever plays with fire will get burned in the end. Your construction will damage al-Aqsa, and whoever damages al-Aqsa – we’ll destroy his house.”
As the rally drew to a close, Sheikh Salah called on the crowd of thousands to come to the Temple Mount Saturday to continue protests.
“Weare standing ahead of difficult days, and we must be prepared for some difficult events,” he declared. “We are ready to protect al-Aqsa every day and every night.”
Salah’s deputy, Sheikh Kamel Khatib, promised the crowd, “Jerusalem will be the capital of the Islamic nation.”
He called on Arab countries to stand up to the occurrences in Israel, and criticized them for failing to interfere.
“What is going on with you?” he called. “You are doing nothing. It cannot be that you as the leaders of the Arab world are not raising your voices in protest.”