A crime against humanity

Over the past fifty years, successive Israeli governments have been working to Judaize the city of Jerusalem and its holy sites. The current closure of al-Aqsa Mosque is part of the old Zionist Judaization plan. Palestinians continue holding demonstrations outside the al-Aqsa Mosque compound to voice their outrage at Israel’s latest move to impose new restrictive measures at the holy site. After coming under fire from the Muslim world, Israel reopened the compound, but with metal detectors and surveillance cameras at entrances. Since then, however, Palestinians have been refusing to enter the al-Aqsa compound through the metal detectors and hundreds of worshipers have been holding prayers outside the site with clashes that resulted in the death of several Palestinians and the wounding of scores.

Israel’s restrictions at al-Aqsa are meant to expand the Tel Aviv regime’s control over the highly-sensitive site and change its status quo. Israeli authorities should abandon installing metal detectors at al-Aqsa’s gates and end pursuing policies that harm world peace.

Israeli policies represented violations and assaults on al-Aqsa. The metal detectors and cameras at the mosque were the latest example of Israel’s unbridled violations that constitutes a flagrant violation of the rights and freedoms of Palestinian Muslim worshipers. Such intrusive and dehumanizing practices aim to provide Israel with carte blanche to exercise security control over the holy sites of Jerusalem.

Undoubtedly, Israel is deliberately creating and escalating a situation of instability, insecurity and violence; with its recent escalations, the Israeli occupation is not only provoking the Palestinians, but the entire Muslim world and the international legal system.

The Tel Aviv regime has been trying to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population.

The Israeli regime prevented Palestinian worshipers from performing Friday prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied al-Quds (Jerusalem) for the first time since 1969, forcing them to pray at its gates.

Due to the Israeli ban, thousands of Palestinians performed Friday prayer at al-Aqsa’s gates and at military checkpoints erected throughout the city amid heavy presence of Israeli police forces.

There is no justifiable excuse to prevent Muslims from praying at a holy place like al-Aqsa mosque. Closing the Mosque, preventing worshipers from entering it and announcing it a military zone constitute flagrant violations of the sanctity of Islamic holy sites.

The Israeli decision is a crime against humanity, a crime committed against the freedom of religion. From the point of view of human rights, it’s utterly unacceptable. What Israeli authorities have done is added to the group of crimes and violations committed against humanity, land and sanctities.

The Israeli occupation authorities are exploiting incidents in the Palestinian territories so as to carry out the judaization of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Such violations anger Muslims across the globe, and threaten stability. The move is an additional crime committed by Israel against humanity and the holy sites. The Israeli move is a serious precedent and a blatant attack on the holy sites and an attack on the rights and freedom of Palestinians to practice their religious rites.

Given the growing influence of the Israeli religious right in domestic politics, Palestinians fear that any such incident could be used as an excuse for a broader policy shift that would lead to a change in the status quo.

Israel claims that the metal detectors are necessary for Israel's "security". These metal detectors are not about security, but rather about deliberately attempting to bar Palestinians from their places of worship. In contrast, for example, Israel's recent stance towards a group of Jewish extremists who have openly announced that they seek the destruction of the al-Aqsa compound in order to build a Jewish temple in its place. Yet, while openly advocating for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the destruction of Muslim holy sites, the Israeli government continues to allow this group to enter the al-Aqsa compound with arms under the guise of "freedom of religion".

The metal detectors must be viewed in their proper context. They are part of the Israeli Judaiztion policy of Al-Aqsa Mosque. They are aimed at erasing the Palestinians, the indigenous population, demolishing their homes, their culture and religious sites and replacing them with extremist settlers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that he was sticking to a decision concerning metal detectors at al-Aqsa despite rising tensions. Netanyahu is happy to see Jerusalem erupt in violence, because it came as a cover for his scandal of financial corruption. Facing a corruption investigation for a submarine scandal, Netanyahu is refusing to remove the metal detectors so as to ensure that attention is deflected from this suspicious deal and instead focused on violence so that corruption charges are deflected.

The international community has to shoulder responsibilities towards Palestinians, holy sites in Al-Quds Al-Sharif, and all the Palestinian territories, and to confront the occupation's insistence on violating international laws and norms. The international community should act immediately to deter repeated Israeli attacks against Islamic and Christian holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem and to stop Israel's racist violations and crimes against the Palestinian people and their holy sites. There is no excuse for the closure of al-Aqsa Mosque. The freedom to worship is a right guaranteed in law and any violation of that right is rejected. The decision to prohibit entry to the sacred site would probably exacerbate tensions in the city in the short term.