Following Friday’s deadly battles between worshippers and Israeli forces, Palestinians returned to the Al-Aqsa compound on Saturday, but tensions and concern continue as extreme Jewish groups threaten to storm the mosque on Sunday.
Jerusalemites feared a temporal separation of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews, as happened at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, according to Nabil Faydi, a political expert from East Jerusalem.
However, he stressed that such a strategy would be impossible to implement in Al-Aqsa.
“For the Palestinians, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock represent a red line,” he told Arab News. “Israel is attempting to divide the 350,000 Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem from those in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. Recent developments, however, have demonstrated that the Palestinians are united. It’s about the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
He called Friday’s attack a “test balloon” by Israel to gauge Palestinian reaction. “However, what happened in Al-Aqsa confirms that the Palestinians are willing to sacrifice their lives to rescue the mosque.” They would not allow Jewish rites to be performed within Islam’s third holiest location.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned Israel’s intrusion into the holy mosque and assault on worshippers within Al-Qibli Mosque and Al-Aqsa plaza, which resulted in the injuries of over 150 worshippers and the detention of hundreds more.
The OIC stated, “This hazardous escalation is an insult to the sensibilities of the whole Muslim Ummah and a flagrant breach of international agreements and instruments.”
The Israeli occupation was judged completely liable “for the consequences of such everyday crimes and violations against the Palestinian people, their territories, and sanctuaries,” according to the report.
It urged the international community, particularly the United Nations Security Council, to take action in response to the ongoing abuses.
Despite philosophical differences among Palestinian factions — whether secular, Islamist, or Marxist — about the best technique to use in their fight to liberate their land from Israeli occupation, the only thing that unifies them is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which they regard as a red line that must not be crossed.
A resident of East Jerusalem, Ibrahim Al-Anbawi, described the situation as “worsening” and claimed there was “deep resentment” among Jerusalemites over what transpired on Friday, which he said caused Jordan and the Palestinian Authority “a great deal of shame.”
Meanwhile, enormous intrusions into Al-Aqsa will celebrate the Jewish Passover, which will keep the pot boiling, according to Palestinian sources.
“The war is not ended, and the resistance will not stop,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared. With the illegal Israeli occupation, there is no truce agreement, and it must stop its abuses.”
On Saturday, dozens of Al-Quds University students in Abu Dis, southeast of Jerusalem, were injured after inhaling tear gas shot by Israeli troops in and near their campus. The students had come together to denounce Israeli abuses in Jerusalem and Jenin.
“As the Palestinians’ dream of having an independent Palestinian state fades, the only thing they can fight for is protecting national symbols, and here Al-Aqsa Mosque stands out as the most important of those sacred symbols they believe they should protect and preserve,” Roni Shakid, a senior researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Truman Institute for Peace Studies, told Arab News.
Imad Mona, an East Jerusalem bookstore owner, told Arab News that shopkeepers in the Old City and East Jerusalem were expecting more sales during Ramadan due to an increase in Al-Aqsa tourists from Israel, the West Bank, and even East Jerusalem.
However, because of the ongoing tensions and Israeli permit restrictions on West Bank inhabitants during the Jewish holidays, the mosque’s attendance has been limited.
Any worsening in security at the Al-Aqsa Mosque will cast a pall on the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Following Israel’s attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in May, Hamas launched missiles at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Palestinians fought the Al-Aqsa second Intifada, which lasted nearly four years and claimed the lives of 4,464 Palestinians, 47,440 Palestinians, and 9,800 Palestinians.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to Al-Aqsa sparked the rioting.