Al-Aqsa Officials to Defy Israeli Court over Access
Al-Aqsa Officials to Defy Israeli Court over Access
The Muslim foundation that runs the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds), the Waqf, said it would defy an Israeli court order barring access to part of the holy site.

There have recently been scuffles between worshippers and Israeli police there over the use of a side building called the Golden Gate, closed by the Zionist regime since 2003.

Arguing there was no longer any reason for it to remain shut, Palestinian officials reopened the building last month and crowds of worshippers prayed inside despite the Israeli closure.

An Israeli court this week gave the Waqf until March 10 to explain why the closure order should be lifted.

“As the Waqf does not formally recognize the Israeli court system, it is unlikely to issue a formal response, in which case the court is expected to approve closure of the building,” Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO opposing Israel’s settlement expansion activities, said in a statement, AFP reported.

“It is anticipated that a forced closure by the police will trigger significant numbers of Palestinians rallying or breaking the closure.”

That, it said, was liable to lead to “a harsh police reaction” at the compound, which includes Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

Asked to confirm the latest ruling, an Israeli official said details were “confidential.”

“The decisions of the courts do not apply to the mosque of Al-Aqsa,” Sheikh Abdel-Azim Salhab, the leader of the Waqf council, said in a video clip published Tuesday.

“It is our right, religious and contractual, to access the Golden Gate and keep this door open for Muslims to pray,” he said.

Salhab and his assistant were briefly detained last week for what the Israeli troops said was violation of an order preventing entry into a prohibited area of the holy site.

They were released later the same day but the arrest drew condemnation from Jordan, the custodian of Al-Haram al-Sharif, in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

Waqf spokesman Firas al-Dibs said that since the latest dispute erupted Israel had arrested nearly 130 Palestinians in Jerusalem, including senior Muslim officials.

It has temporarily barred more than 60 people from the compound, he said.

Access to Golden Gate was closed by an Israeli court order in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada.

Waqf officials argue that the organization that prompted the ban no longer exists.

The compound is the third-holiest site in Islam.

  • source : Tasnim