Asia-Middle East Relations

UK: Friends of Al Aqsa urges ‘immediate’ access to Al-Aqsa:

A British NGO has urged Israel to grant Muslims immediate access to Al-Aqsa Mosque amid escalating incidents surrounding restrictions on the mosque by Israeli authorities.

The Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) — an NGO defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred al-Aqsa Sanctuary — said in a statement on its website: “Israel in order to create greater control over Al-Aqsa has, under the guise of security, created new measures.

“These measures include humiliating checkpoint-style turnstiles, spy cameras within Al-Aqsa, and metal detectors at entrances.”

At least three Palestinian men were shot dead in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem on Friday and dozens of others were injured after fresh clashes broke out with Israeli police outside the mosque, health officials said.

The killings came as Palestinians and Israeli security forces clashed after security restrictions were placed on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Last Sunday, protests broke out after the mosque’s leadership spoke out against metal detectors installed at the site following a deadly shootout last week.

The new security measures led to a wave of anger among Palestinians, who called for the immediate removal of the metal detectors.

Israel defended the detectors, saying they were no different from security measures at other holy sites around the world.

“FOA is greatly concerned at the provocative measures taken by the Israeli occupation forces. Yesterday Israeli forces further shot the Grand Mufti Sheikh Ikrama Sabri with rubber bullets, who is now hospitalised, and injured scores of others,” said Ismail Patel, the group’s chairman.

Patel said Israeli attempts to “wrest control of Al-Aqsa are in violation of international law” and underlined “demand for the immediate unimpeded access to Al-Aqsa for all Muslims.”

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming all of Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital — a move not recognised by the international community.

Sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Jerusalem city is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, which for Muslims represents the world’s third-holiest site after the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.


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