Reinforcing troops
Photo: AP
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Birkat Kohanim last year
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Watching over
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Kamal Khatib
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Islamic Movement: No one can keep us out of Temple Mount

On heels of Sunday's riots in Old City and ahead of Sukkot prayer service at Western Wall, Israeli Muslims say by limiting worshipers' entrance to al-Aqsa Mosque police implementing 'plan formulated years ago'

"We are not deterred, and will continue to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is very important to," the Islamic Movement in Israel said after Jerusalem Police decided limit the entrance of Muslim worshippers to the Temple Mount compound during Monday's Jewish prayer services at the site.


Thousands of Jews are expected to flock to the Western Wall Monday for the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) ceremony.


Meanwhile, Hamas has called for a new intifada (uprising) to "defend" Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located within the compound. The Islamist group issued a statement saying that "harming al-Aqsa will blow up in the face of the Zionist aggression," and blamed Israel for the recent violence in east Jerusalem.


Police will allow Muslim Worshipers aged 50 and over and women of all ages, who carry Israeli IDs, to attend services at the Temple Mount. .


On Friday the leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch told followers that should Muslims have to choose between renouncing the al-Aqsa Mosque and becoming martyrs they will choose the latter.


"Should the State of Israel make us choose…we will clearly choose to be martyrs," said Sheikh Raed Salah in the annual al-Aqsa convention in Umm al-Fahm. "We are a nation that does not give up, we will die and win; the al-Aqsa Mosque is not a matter that can be given up on, and we shall win, God willing."


Thousands of Muslims heeded Salah's call and made their way to Jerusalem's Old City early Sunday. Police initially restricted access to the compound – both to tourists and visitors – as a precautionary measure, after learning that residents of east Jerusalem were urged to "come to protect the Mount." Large police forces were deployed in the Old City as well.


'Carrying out policy'

The would-be precautionary measure backfired, as shortly after word that the compound had been closed spread, some 150 Arabs arrived at the Lions Gate and began stoning security forces.


The demonstrators were pushed back towards the Wadi Joz neighborhood, where they continued to riot.


Islamic Movement spokesman Zahi Nujidat said police "are carrying out the Israeli government's policy. This plan was formulated years ago – this is no secret. (Former Israeli prime minister) David Ben-Gurion said the State was worthless without Jerusalem.


"It is important that people realize that this is a religious conflict," said the spokesman, "This is not about politics – this is our religion, our faith, so it is only natural that we pray here. The government and police won’t stop us from doing so."


Ali Waked and Efrat Weiss contributed to the report  


פרסום ראשון: 10.05.09, 01:04
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