From the news desk

Al Aqsa is burning, cry ulema

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Ulema in the Western Cape have been urged to focus on the continued brutality at Masjidul Aqsa in their jumuah khutbah on Friday. The impassioned plea by the Muslim Judicial Council and Al Quds Foundation comes as Islam’s third holiest site remains the flashpoint of violence between extreme Zionist settlers, Israeli occupation forces and Palestinian worshippers.

The UN Security Council appealed for calm and restraint Thursday at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as clashes continued overnight in the neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces raided several neighborhoods across East Jerusalem late Thursday as clashes continued for the fourth consecutive day.

In al-Tur, Israeli forces raided a local sports club and cemetery late Thursday, while Tamer Ziyad Anati, 8, and Ayyub Khuweis, 9, were detained for allegedly throwing rocks. Clashes also broke out in Silwan, Shufat, al-Eizariya, and Jabal al-Mukabbir, with Palestinian youths throwing rocks and empty bottles at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and sound grenades.

In Ras al-Amud, an Israeli Egged bus was set on fire late Thursday after Palestinians hurled a firebomb at the vehicle, witnesses said.
Amid the tensions, over 5,000 Israeli police officers were deployed in the alleyways of East Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday as Israeli authorities prepared for further unrest.

Israeli forces closed all but four gates leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque — the Lion, Hatta, Council and Chain Gates — with dozens of Palestinian youths performing dawn prayers outside on the streets after being denied entry to the mosque.

An elderly man identified as Ziad Abu Hleil was detained in the compound after he raised a Palestinian flag, while Muhammad Mahmoud Dabash, 13, Laith Imad Dabash, 15, and Salah al-Don Najeh Bkeirat, 17, were detained in the Old City.

UN Security Council calls for ‘restraint’

In a unanimous declaration, the 15-member panel also expressed its “grave concern” and called for maintaining the rules governing the sensitive site seen as holy by both Muslims and Jews.

“The members of the Security Council called for the exercise of restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric, and upholding unchanged the historic status quo” at the compound “in word and in practice,” a statement said.

Council members called for an end to the clashes, so that “the situation returns to normality in a way which promotes the prospects for Middle East peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Netanyahu assured UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late Thursday that his country was determined to strictly apply the status quo.
The council said both worshipers and visitors should be without fear of violence or intimidation while at the compound.

The third-holiest site in Islam, the compound is also the holiest site in Judaism, which venerates it as the Temple Mount. It is located in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967 and at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides see the site as a symbol of religion and nationalism. MAAN


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