Hamas urges resistance as al-Aqsa Mosque remains closed
The Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas has called on Muslims worldwide to put up resistance in the wake of the Tel Aviv regime’s decision to shut down al-Aqsa Mosque after three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers were killed in a gun battle at the mosque compound.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, in a statement released on Saturday, described the closure of the site as a “religious war” against Palestinians’ places of worship and held the Israeli regime fully responsible for any potential consequences of the move.
Barhoum also called on people in Arab and Muslim nations to demonstrate in front of Israeli embassies in a show of support for al-Aqsa Mosque, and to pressure Israel to put an immediate end to its acts of aggression.
The al-Aqsa Mosque compound has been shuttered by Israeli police since the deadly shooting attack in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds on Friday morning.
Israeli authorities later cancelled Friday prayers at al-Aqsa — the first of its kind in decades — and later extended the closure until Sunday.
On Saturday, Israeli forces briefly detained the top Muslim leader of Jerusalem al-Quds, Sheikh Mohammad Ahmed Hussein, after he decried the mosque closure in a TV interview.
Hussein was later released on a $2,800 bail and placed under house arrest for five days. He was also banned from giving press interviews for 30 days.
Palestinian religious and political figures have denounced the ongoing closure of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, calling it a violation of their religious freedoms.
“There is no excuse for the closure of al-Aqsa Mosque, and we oppose this decision,” Sheikh Yusuf Idis, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of religious affairs, said.
He added, “The freedom to worship is a right guaranteed in law and any violation of that right is rejected.”
The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed new tensions ever since Israeli forces introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.
More than 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces in the ongoing tensions since the beginning of October 2015.
The Tel Aviv regime has tried to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds over the past decades by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population. Palestinians say the Israeli measures are aimed at paving the way for the Judaization of the city.
The al-Aqsa Mosque compound is a flashpoint Islamic site, which is also holy to Jews. The mosque is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.