Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the ongoing violence at the al-Aqsa Mosque in a strongly worded statement issued from his office. Abbas denounced the escalating violence seen against worshippers at the Jerusalem holy site as Muslims welcome the end of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.
Speaking on behalf of Abbas, the President’s spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rodeina, has said that Israel is ultimately responsible for the escalation in confrontations for not bringing incursions by militant settlers to a halt. The incursions are accompanied and protected by Israeli police and military.
Yesterday, we reported how approximately 400 Israeli settlers led by a known agitator had entered the compound at al-Aqsa escorted by dozens of Israeli police officers for a “tour” of the site. Given that the al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and worshippers were observing the closing days of the holy month of Ramadan, there is no other way to see the intrusion than a deliberate provocation.
Nabil Abu Rodeina said that Israel is not only allowing and encouraging the violations, but risks escalating the level of the crisis from a political conflict into a religious one, risking a whole a new wave of violence.
Israeli police normally restrict access to Jewish worshippers during the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan, a time when tens of thousands of Muslims assemble at the holy site for worship. However, this year there were reports that the Israeli far-right had been calling on supporters to organize such visits to mark the “reunification” of Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day, a national holiday where Israelis celebrate the anniversary of their occupation of East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The Palestinian government in the West Bank has also issued a statement condemning the violence and violations of al-Aqsa, accusing Israel of a deliberate deterioration of the social and economic conditions in Palestine, including Jerusalem. The statement says that Israel is seeking to pass new resolutions that avoid implementing any of the internationally recognised rights granted to the Palestinian people, rights that include the right to their holy sites, to liberation and to both independence and sovereignty.