Despite Israeli forces removing security installations in the Haram of al-Aqsa, protesting mussallies say their battle for control of the masjid has yet not been won. Yesterday morning, religious leaders of Jerusalem announced the re-entry into the masjid and confirmed that Asr Salah would be performed inside the site. However, upon re-entry mussallies were met with security forces who after the performance of Salatul Shukr, barred entry through Baab Hutta. The clashes follow the initial closure of the Masjid with the killing of two officers and the subsequent installation of metal detectors and security cameras by Israeli authorities. At least four Palestinians have been killed in clashes, the fourth individual shot dead on Friday. This after allegedly attempting to stab Israeli soldiers north of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank.
Speaking to VOC News, Palestinian archaeologist, Dr. Abeer Zayyad explains that yesterday Israeli Forces attacked mussallies inside the masjid, further preventing entry to mussallies on the second day following the removal of the security measures.
“Today, since this morning, they did not allow the people to enter the Old City, only the old people. So even the people who are living inside the Old City, the young people were not allowed to enter the mosque – you need to be [older] than fifty to enter the mosque. Most of the people were not allowed to enter.”
She says that while previously mussallies were able to perform salah outside the gates of the masjid; today mussallies were forced to perform salah outside the gates of the Old City. After which mussallies were attacked in the streets of the city.
“Now a lot of youth are asking the ulama to go back to the streets and to refuse what Israel is doing…after we entered, they started attacking us with rubber bullets, with gas bombs, with sound bombs and hundreds of people were injured inside the mosque.”
Despite the removal of scaffolding on which security cameras were mounted at the gates of the masjid, Zayyad notes that upon entry, mussallies discovered that Israeli authorities had installed many cameras within the masjid.
She says that following the outbreak of violence, mussallies decided to remain within the masjid in an attempt to perform Salatul Jumuah within the masjid, but were Thursday evening attacked, with some 300 arrested by Israeli forces.
“After they released them, most of them were banned from entering the mosque…This is why now everybody is asking that we pray in the streets until we get our rights back.”
Commenting on the medical condition, Zayyad says that the injured are transferred to specific hospitals, where officials do not require the injured protestors to pay for the medical costs, further exhausting the medical services within the area.
With no judicial recourse expected for protesting Palestinians, she confirmed that Palestinians religious leaders are today deciding on the next step, with yesterday’s victory regarded as only a small step to gaining complete access and control of the Islamic religious site.
Given the number of people who have joined the protests, Zayyad says that Israeli authorities appear to be exhausting all avenues to maintain control of the Haram, stationing some 30 000 additional police officers within the Old City.
As someone who has actively participated in the two week long protests, constantly supplying the South African community with regular updates on the situation, Zayyad says she is thankful for the international support and encourages everyone to continue their show of solidarity.
“We know [of the Cape Town #HandOffAlAqsa protest] and we are thankful, because it is not seen in many countries. We want them to continue this and to remember that this is for the ummah – this mosque is for the ummah, not just for people of Jerusalem. We in Jerusalem are willing to give our lives for the mosque, but we also need other Muslims to stand with us and to stand with the mosque.”