Following several calls from Palestinian officials for an emergency Arab and Islamic summit to address the situation at Masjid al-Aqsa, the Al-Quds International Foundation recently convened for an international conference in Istanbul, Turkey.
The gathering came amidst renewed threats to the mosque’s sanctity, with reports emerging on an impending vote in Israel to divide the holy site between Muslims and Jews. The news, coupled with several Israeli attempts to forcefully enter the mosque, has led to increased tensions in the city of Jerusalem.
Returning from the conference, Al-Quds Foundation SA chairperson, Maulana Ighsaan Hendricks, said the Palestinian delegation that was present voiced the disappointment, and disillusionment at the lack of meaningful action taken against Israel by the international community. This was directed particularly at the governments from within the ‘Arab world’.
“However, they continue to celebrate and appreciate the initiatives taken by civil societies and NGO’s, like the Al-Quds Foundation and others around the world,” he noted.
He said the disappointment stemmed from the fact that despite numerous summits being held by the different Arab countries, no concrete decisions had yet been taken to address the situation. Even more alarming however, was the increase in Arab countries that were now collaborating, and aligning themselves with the state of Israel.
Much of the recent protests and violence near Al-Aqsa have stemmed from an incident in the early weeks of October, where Palestinians were bared entry to the mosque, only to witness police escort several members of a right-wing Jewish group into the site. Officials reported that the group were allowed entry to observe the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. This prompted intense clashes between police and protesters.
Hendricks deplored the continued attempts at desecrating the iconic masjid, noting that since the beginning of the occupation on 1967, there had been 650 such attempts to forcibly enter al-Aqsa.
“It is important to say that at this particular time in the history of the occupation, that the Zionists have reached the peak of what they call their divisive plans,” he said.
According to him, the Zionist regime was already seeking to divide the mosque by designate specific times for Muslims and Jews to enter. Should this plan succeed, they would go ahead with plans to completely divide the mosque between the two groups. He said this was evident by the precedent set at the Ibrahimi mosque, in the city of Hebron.
“Because they succeeded in the Ibrahimi Masjid, therefore they are now intensifying their attempts to divide Masjid al-Aqsa,” he stressed.
Despite this, Hendricks praised the continued resistance shown by the Palestinians, in opposing those attempts.
Tensions were further escalated on Tuesday, when Israeli Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, attempted to force entry to the al-Aqsa compound, whilst surrounded by heavily police security. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)