A violent altercation at Masjidul Aqsa in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday has raised the ire of Muslims, with the Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) and Religious Affairs calling it a grave Israeli transgression on one of the final days of Ramadan. Some 400 Zionist settlers, led by Ehuda Glick, a hardline rabbi and as well as leaders of the Temple Movement, entered the flashpoint compound before the police officers scuffled with worshippers who chanted “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest) to express their anger at the entry of settlers.
In videos circulated on social media, the settlers chanted and perform prayers, as they were afforded top level protection by Israeli authorities. The Israeli occupation police viciously turned on worshippers, arresting and injuring many. They bolt shut the Jami al-Qibli and marched inside the masjid with their boots, firing sound bombs and stun grenades.
The ministry said in a statement that the attack on the holy site is an attack on the sentiments of Muslims all over the world, and not only in Palestine, describing it as a desecration of the third holiest place in Islam.
It called on the international community and human rights organizations to urgently work to stop the Israeli escalation in Al-Aqsa and to allow Muslims exclusively to practice their worship there.
In a statement, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) condemned the desecrations and attacks on Masjidul Aqsa.
“The total disrespect shown by Zionist and fanatical Jews for the sanctity of the mosque as well as towards the worshippers who are in spiritual seclusion (ítikāf) and focusing on their worship, is utterly insensitive and disrespectful,” said MJC secretary general Shaykh Isgaak Taliep.
Speaking to VOC on Monday, Ebrahim Moosa, a researcher at the Palestine Information Network, said tens of thousands of religious Zionist youth had marched in annual Jerusalem Day parade.
“This is a case of the cowardice and brazenness of Israel to dare to assault Masjid al-Aqsa in this holiest of months and trangress the dignity of devout worshippers,” said Moosa.
Quoting former Mufti of Jerusalem, Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, Moosa said the intrusion into the masjid was “vengeance”.
“There were over 400 000 Muslims in the compound of Masjidul Aqsa on the 27th night of Ramadan and this raised the ire of the Temple Movement, that seek to change the status quo of the masjid. So yesterday was a show of force by the settlers.”
Moosa believes that the recent provocations should not be seen in isolation of the major shifts in Israeli politics.
“Israeli politics is in a kind of flux at the moment. The Likud party, which is secular, is getting closer to the religious right-wing. The extreme Temple Movement has become closer to the police establishment,” he explained.
South Africans are safe
Ironically, a group of over 100 South Africans who are in iti’qaaf at Masjidul Aqsa watched the developments just like everyone else back home. The Palestinian Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs has warned South Africans to remain in the Marwaani masjid for their own safety, should any violence arise.
“We were all locked inside the Marwaani masjid as everything happened on the outside at the Qibli masjid. All South Africans are safe and no one was involved in any of the incidents,” reported Capetonian Ayoob Dadabhay.
The Marwaani masjid is in walking distance of the Qibli masjid, however the prayer section is situated underground. This makes it difficult to hear things on ground level.
“We are here for a purpose, to sit for Iti’qaf. For the safety of South Africans, we always tell them not to get involved in anything. If they do, they will not be allowed back to Al Aqsa,” said Dadabhay.
On a positive note, Dadhabay reported that the Iti’qaaf at Masjidul Aqsa had been phenomenal this year, with the most travellers being from Cape Town. Local shuyookh such as Maulana Dawood Sampson and maulana Farouk Ryland are amongst the delegation.
“Things have gone very smoothly, and the guys are making the best of the lady day, InshaAllah”.