Israel has banned the deputy director of the Jerusalem Waqf Department from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for six months.
“I have received an Israeli order banning me from Al-Aqsa Mosque for six month,” Sheikh Najeh Bakirat told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
He said the Israeli authorities have given no reason for the ban. Bakirat noted that Israeli police and intelligence had raided his office last week, citing a threat to Israel’s security.
Israel had banned Bakirat from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for 23 times since 2001 and detained him 13 times.
“I reject this Israeli ban order,” he said. “This is an Israeli attempt to empty Al-Aqsa Mosque and disrupt the work of the Waqf department in Jerusalem,” he added.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
In 2019, its head Sheikh Abdel-Azeem Salhab and his deputy, Sheikh Najeh Bkerat, were briefly detained and hit with a one-week ban. Israeli police extended the bans on Sunday by 40 days for Salhab and four months for Bkerat, a spokesman for the Waqf Council told Anadolu news agency.
The ban was a consequence of Islamic Waqf Council’s reopening of the Bab al-Rahma building for Muslims, defying a 16-year Israeli ban on it.
Israel bans Palestinian woman who lives in Jerusalem from entering al-Aqsa Mosque because she won't support the israeli occupation #BDS https://t.co/piTkLYrgeL— Sarah Wilkinson (@swilkinsonbc) October 9, 2020
100 Palestinian activists and religious figures have been detained “in an effort to put an end to Palestinian defiance of Israeli orders” since its reopening, according to Wafa, a Palestinian news agency.
Salhab told Arab48 news website that the Israel’s right wing government wants to ‘ignite a religious war’ and ‘facilitates Israeli extremist’ intrusions’ into the compound, by banning and expelling scholars and guards for the site, reported Al Jazeera.
“The Al-Aqsa mosque is the property of Muslims alone, and no other religion has the right to it. It seems that Israel is trying in vain to change the status quo in the Al-Aqsa mosque, and this is what we will not allow,” Salhab said.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS news desk