Israel’s occupation forces have violated religious sites in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem on 184 occasions in the past two months, the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Affairs has revealed.
In a report issued on Sunday, the ministry said that in May and June alone Al-Aqsa Mosque was subject to more than 80 attacks and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron almost 100 violations. The latter includes the banning of the call to prayer, while one of the main gates leading to Al-Aqsa, Bab Al-Yusufiyah, has been closed.
“All Israeli policies towards Al-Aqsa Mosque and the area surrounding it, whether political statements or practical steps targeting the holy site, necessitate a serious, firm and quick stand,” insisted Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Yousuf Id’ies. “The occupation and its executive arms have in recent years used the pretext of restoration and development as a cover for the Judaisation projects that aim to make changes in the structure of the Arab and Islamic antiquities in Jerusalem, and to reinforce a reality [on the ground] that the occupation is the owner of these archaeological sites.” Israel does not own such sites, especially those in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Id’ies pointed to Israel’s announcement that it has launched restoration projects at the frontages in the Bab Abdul Hamid II area, the “New Gate”, one of a number in the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem. Several such projects have been announced recently, which indicate Israel’s acceleration of its Judaisation scheme, claimed the Palestinian minister.
“Facts on the ground indicate that the occupation and settlers are trying to empty Al-Aqsa Mosque of its people, given the attacks against, and arrests of, Palestinian men and women [at the mosque] and the formation of a special unit of [Israeli] female police,” he added.