Palestinian chief justice Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi has scathingly condemned the most recent invasion of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most holy site in Islam, by Jewish extremists protected by Israeli soldiers earlier this week.

Al-Tamimi pointed out that during the past three decades there have been multiple attempts by Jewish groups to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including several attempts to bomb the mosque.  He added that such attempts were always done with the full support of the Israeli military, and he holds the Israeli occupation government fully responsible for any adverse reaction that might result from the most recent breach.

The Muslim leader also said that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was in extreme danger, as the Israeli occupation authorities have been enthusiastically supporting fanatic Jewish groups in assaulting the Mosque at a time when the Israeli forces (who militarily control all access to the Mosque) were banning Palestinians from accessing the holy site.

He underlined that the Israeli aggressions against Muslim holy sites have stretched to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, in a clear bid to Judaize the two holy Muslim shrines.  The Ibrahimi Mosque was the site of a 1994 massacre of 29 men, women and children praying in the mosque during Ramadan by a fanatical Jewish rabbi, Baruch Goldstein, who was able to empty his clip four times during the massacre with Israeli forces watching and not stopping him.  Following the massacre, the Muslim population was punished (despite the fact that they were the victims of the massacre, not the perpetrators), and their mosque was taken over by Israeli forces, who split the mosque in two and made half of it into a synagogue for Jews only.

The "Judaization" of Muslim holy sites through the use of force is something for which the Israeli government has been condemned by both the International Court of Justice and the United Nations.  But, as Tamimi pointed out in his statement Friday, such takeovers of Muslim sites and desecration by the government of Israel and Israeli citizens have continued unabated.

It should be noted as well that the current outbreak of violence in the Palestinian occupied territories began in September 2000 with a highly publicized visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, surrounded by dozens of armed soldiers and guards.  Palestinian Muslims, perceiving Sharon’s act as a desecration and a provocation, began a demonstration against the visit.  Israeli police opened fire at the unarmed demonstrators, killing twenty and sparking the open conflict that has continued until today.

This week’s invasion of Al-Aqsa mosque comes on the anniversary of ‘Jerusalem Day’, in which Israelis celebrate the sacking of Jerusalem during the 1967 War with the Palestinians.  Current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a speech Thursday, "Throughout Israel’s 58 years of independence there is one moment unmatched by any other. There has never been one like it throughout Jewish history and never will be. That same moment the call was heard – ‘Temple Mount [referring to the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque] is ours’. That call surged from the depths. From within the deepest layers, the tears and prayers of the people who finally returned home. There has never been, and never will be another home for the Jewish people."

But Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi clarified that the Mosque was entirely a Muslim sacred shrine that Jews had no right to it, blasting their historical desire to destroy the mosque and build a "Third Temple" on the site in its place.

In his statement responding to this week’s invasion, Tamimi urged Arab and Muslim Ummah, particularly the Palestinian people, to always stand in defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, emphasizing that peace and security will not prevail over the region unless occupied Jerusalem and the Mosque returned back to Muslim control.