Palestinian born author and academic, Dr Abdallah Omar Ma’rouf, has attributed the recent outbreak of violence at Masjid al-Aqsa to the Israeli regimes ongoing attempts to seize full control of Islam’s third holiest site. Israeli sympathizers have propagated the view that the issue due to a lack of ‘freedom of religion’.
Clashes erupted outside the vicinity of al-Aqsa last Wednesday after Israeli forces escorted members of a far-right Jewish group into the masjid, whilst simultaneously barring Muslims from entering the site. The group were purported to be conducting celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
Palestinian anger was further intensified by the news that Muslims under the age of 60 would not be allowed to enter the mosque. This has led to a week of intense protests, with some Israeli Knesset members also joining in with support for the Palestinians.
Dr Ma’rouf, a well known expert on the history of the city of al-Quds, joined a live panel discussion on Channel Islam and VOC this week to discuss the protests. The panel also featured the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) president, Maulana Ighsaan Hendricks.
Ma’rouf was critical of suggestions that the Israeli group were merely attempting to observe their religious practices within the mosque, insisting there was a broader issue at hand. He accused the Israeli regime of attempting to change the face of al-Aqsa, as well as the city of Jerusalem as a whole.
“It is not just a few people coming to pray in Masjid al-Aqsa, as the Zionist movement tries to claim in front of the media. It is an issue of taking a holy place that is under illegal occupation, out of the hands of its legal people,” he said.
Al-Aqsa was widely seen by the Zionist movement as a symbol, which would allow them to have full control over the Palestinian territories. After years of slowing occupying more and more Palestinian land, he said they were still losing the city of Jerusalem, which remained a city with a ‘Muslim and Christian face’.
“This is why they are trying to demolish the whole face of the city, because Masjid al-Aqsa is considered by them the biggest enemy of the Zionist movement,” he asserted.
He further accused the Zionist regime of attempting to divide the mosque between Muslims and Jews, calling it a blatant violation of International humanitarian law. What was even more alarming was that specific times were already designated for when Muslims could enter the mosque, and when Jews could enter. He described this as the first step in divide al-Aqsa itself.
During the Israel’s 60 day ‘Operation Protection Edge’ assault on the Gaza Strip, the global Muslim community banded together in condemnation for Israel’s brutal killing of more than 2000 Palestinians. The support was particularly strong locally, where the community united for a mass march in support of Gaza, which reportedly drew over 100 000 people. It was acts such as this that gave the Palestinian people hope, said Ma’rouf.
But he stressed that the Muslim community should not wait for similar assaults, before they chose responded. He called on Muslims to protest the occupation in its entirety, and not merely specific incidents.
“Muslims outside Palestine, they need to let their brothers inside Palestine feel their presence,” he said.
“If you would like to pray in Masjid al-Aqsa, end the occupation. If you would like to save your brothers and sisters in the Gaza Strip, you must end the occupation. Every single trouble happening in Palestine is a result of the occupation.” VOC (Mubeen Banderker)