RAMALLAH, August 24, 2015 (WAFA) – Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned calls made by Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to ban the entry of Palestinian worshipers who protest against settlers’ presence at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.
The Ministry said this move constitutes new evidence that Israel intends to enforce a spatial and temporal division of the holy Mosque between Muslims and Jews.
Earlier Monday, Israeli media said that Erdan had sent a letter to Israeli “Defense” Minister Moshe Ya’alon urging him to outlaw a group of male and female Muslim protesters, often referred to as “Murabitin” (males) and “Murabitat” (females), who gather at al-Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis in order to block settlers’ entry to the Islamic holy site.
Almost every day, settler groups carry out provocative visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to perform religious rituals at the Islamic site. They are frequently confronted by the Murabitin and Murabitat who gather to prevent them from touring the compound by chanting religious slogans.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
The site has been at the heart of unrest in recent months as Palestinian protesters took to the streets over frequent and increasing settlers’ entry to the holy compound.
Palestinians worry that if Jewish visitors were allowed to pray in the holy al-Aqsa Mosque’s yards on daily basis, it would eventually lead to a permanent change, which will result in full Israeli control and ban on Muslims’ entry and prayer.
This concern is generated by the Israeli policy which prevents Palestinians living in the West Bank from obtaining permits to enter Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Many restrictions are placed on Jerusalemites’ entrance to the holy Compound, including holding their identity cards until they leave the Mosque.
The site has witnessed recurrent clashes in recent years between Palestinians and Israeli police, most frequently due to provocative visits by Jewish extremists who believe the Mosque should be replaced with a Jewish temple.