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Abbas: Israel’s Closure of Temple Mount Mosque ‘Declaration of War’

Arab Riot Temple Mount

Israel’s decision to temporarily close to all visitors the Temple Mount compound, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, following the shooting of Rabbi Yehuda Glick is tantamount to a “declaration of war, ” Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday, according to an AFP report.

“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation, ” Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina quoted him.

“We hold the Israeli government responsible for this dangerous escalation in Jerusalem that has reached its peak through the closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque this morning, ” he added.

According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Abu Rdeina also quoted Abbas as declaring that “Jerusalem and its holy Muslim and Christian places are a red line and we won’t accept any harm to them.”

Abu Rdeina said that Israel’s decision to seal Al-Aqsa mosque for the first time “was a brazen challenge and dangerous behavior, and will lead to more tension and instability and create very dangerous atmosphere.”

Over the past two weeks Israel’s police has confronted an eruption of Arab violence on Temple Mount. Several Israeli media sources have pointed to Palestinian Television messages encouraging violence, especially on Temple Mount.

Abbas’ spokesman urged the international community to “take action immediately in order to stop this aggression because with such attacks and dangerous escalation.” In his view, “Israel is declaring war against the Palestinian people and their holy places and against both the Arab and Islamic nations.”

Israeli forces sealed off the Temple Mount for the first time in several decades late Wednesday, following the shooting of Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a promoter of Jewish visits and prayers on Temple Mount.

The U.S. State Department 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom: Israel and The Occupied Territories criticizes the Israeli government and the Jordanian Waqf for preventing Jewish prayer on Temple Mount:

A government policy since 1967, repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court and routinely enforced by the police, who cite security concerns, denies non-Muslim worship and prayer at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. While the government ensures limited access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to everyone regardless of religious belief, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site, although their access is occasionally restricted due to security concerns. The Israeli National Police (INP) regulates traffic in and out of the site and removes non-Muslim visitors if they appear to be praying.

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (endowments), a Jordanian-funded and administered Islamic trust and charitable organization, manages the site and generally restricts non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque, a practice it started in 2000. The Waqf does not allow non-Muslim religious symbols to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli police said that the decision to block access to the Temple Mount was taken Wednesday after evaluating the security situation following the attempted murder of Yehuda Glick.

Palestinian minister of endowment Sheikh Yusuf Deis said that this was the first time the mosque had been completely sealed off since 1967.

The minister said it was a “conspiracy” aimed at dividing the mosque, and criticized the move as violating the rights of Muslim worshipers.

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