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Outrage, anger over al Aqsa Mosque closure by Israeli forces continue

Monday July 17, 2017 0:23 AM, Agencies

Al Aqsa Mosque
[The last time Friday prayers were not held at the mosque was in late August 1969, a day after Michael Rohan, an Australian, set the mosque on fire. (File photo)]

Jerusalem/Amman/ Kuala Lumpur: As the Israeli authorities closed Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following a shootout that left five people dead on Friday, world leaders termed the move "provocative" saying the Israelis are violating sanctity of the Muslim Holy site under the pretext of containing violence and tension.

Malaysia on Sunday joined the world leaders who condemned Israel's decision to close Al-Aqsa Mosque to worshipers and to ban Friday prayers, describing the move as "a provocative act and a flagrant violation of the sanctity of Islamic holy sites", BERNAMA reported.

"Malaysia strongly condemns Israel's closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and denying the rights of the Muslims to perform Friday prayers," Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak tweeted on Sunday.

Israel canceled Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque following a shootout that killed three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers at the mosque compound on Friday morning.

Malaysia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the action by the Israeli authorities was a violation of international laws and norms.

"This is the first time since 1969 that Muslim worshippers are banned from performing Friday prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque," it said.

In its statement, the ministry stressed that the provocative action by Israel constitutes a flagrant violation of Muslims' rights to perform their religious rituals in their holy places, free from any restrictions, and that the freedom to worship is a right guaranteed under the international law.

It also said that Malaysia demands Israel to immediately re-open Al-Aqsa Mosque to Muslim worshippers and cease any action that would change the status quo of the Islamic holy site.

On the other hand, Jordanian Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat on Sunday warned of Israel's unprecedented and persisted violations of Al-Aqsa Mosque sanctity under the pretext of containing violence and tension, Petra reported.

The minister held Israeli authorities responsible for the mounting tension and violence in the holy compound because of the violations committed by the occupation authorities and Jewish extremists against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, indicating that Jordan rejects Israel's closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing worshippers from praying under any circumstances.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Arabiyat said Israel's closure of the mosque on Friday was a dangerous and unprecedented act and constitutes an assault on the freedom of worship.

He further added that the Israeli move runs contrary to the principles of religious coexistence and social peace and forms sheer breach of international law.

After Israeli authorities closed down the Al-Aqsa compound and cancelled the weekly Friday prayers, Palestinian Muslims gathered outside the Old City walls prayed on mats that they laid on the streets and protested the Israeli decision. The crowd later dispersed peacefully.

The last time Friday prayers were not held at the mosque was in late August 1969, a day after Michael Rohan, an Australian, set the mosque on fire.

Israeli police also detained Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Hussein near the mosque. The Mufti was taken into custody from the Bab Al-Asbat area (Lion's Gate) after the Friday prayers. He was released later on Friday.

Earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in phone call with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, condemned deadly attack at Jerusalem holy site, reported Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The head of Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) Mehmet Görmez also criticized the Israeli decision to close down the mosque.

"There is no justifiable excuse to prevent Muslims from praying at a holy place like the Al-Aqsa mosque," Görmez wrote on his official Twitter account. Jordan, the custodian of the compound, also urged Israel to "immediately reopen" the mosque and denounced the violation of rules at Al-Aqsa.

The Israeli government said the closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque will continue until Sunday, where an assessment session will be held before it is reopened gradually.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming all of Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s "eternal" capital - a move never recognized by the international community. Sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Jerusalem is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which for Muslims represents the world’s third-holiest site.

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